Titian’s Ecce Homo on Slate: Stone, Oil, and the Transubstantiation of Painting

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The Art Bulletin, ISSN: 0004-3079, Vol: 99, Issue: 1, Page: 36-66

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Christopher J. Nygren
Informa UK Limited
Arts and Humanities
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Titian's Ecce Homo (Museo del Prado, Madrid) stands out for many reasons. First, the painting was a gift, so it reflects Titian's volition rather than the will of a patron. Second, the material that Titian elected to use demands attention: Ecce Homo is painted on slate. It is the only painting that Titian ever painted on slate, yet modern scholarship has largely ignored Titian's unique artistic material. The painter heightened the affective immediacy of Christian devotion by underlining the associations between the spiritual content of his image and the physical characteristics of its material substrate.