A copy after an original painting by Titian, previously presumed lost but now identified as the work sold at Christie's, New York, 6 April 2006, lot 64.1 It is also known through numerous copies of various ages and degrees of quality, two engravings, and even as a detail in the Flemish artist David Teniers' painting of 'Leopold Wilhelm's Picture Gallery', now in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.2
This composition is a variation on a subject that Titian painted in two other versions of the 'Mater Dolorosa', both today in the Prado Museum, Madrid – each originally paired with an 'Ecce Homo'. The other two paintings differ in pose: one Madonna raises her hands;3 the other has her hands clasped, as in the present work, but her head is positioned differently, looking upwards to the left.4
The theme of the 'Mater Dolorosa', in pendant with an 'Ecce Homo' (which depicts the figure of Christ crowned with thorns), was of northern origin but gained popularity in Spain in the 16th century. This vogue undoubtedly prompted the Emperor Charles V and later King Philip II to commission paintings of this type from Titian.
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