A number of studio copies of these compositions exist, though no other is currently known which places the Saviour's head against a dark background, nor in which His head faces left, rather than right. These differences, along with the omission of the rope binding His wrists, and the way His left hand grips the rod with all four fingers, rather than with the little finger extended, as in the Aachen and Brussels paintings, indicates a certain degree of independent invention on the part of the artist.
Fascinatingly, infrared reflectography (fig. 1) reveals this deliberate deviation from the prototype. The underdrawing indicates not only the traces of ropes around the hands, but the head inclined to the right, as in the original: the down-turned eyes, with the shadows beneath lightly marked, the outline of the nostrils and line of the nose, and the beginnings of the lips, are all clearly visible. The method of expressing the shading along the nose with short diagonal, parallel lines is also not dissimilar to Bouts' own approach.3
Indeed, the painted technique of the present work likewise emulates that of Bouts to a high degree, particularly in the execution of the blue shadows beneath Christ's eyes which brim with tears, which in turn course down His cheeks, the highlights in the beard, the manner in which the eyebrows have been built up with short delicate brushstrokes, and the small hatchings used to model the drapery.
We are grateful to Dr Valentine Henderiks for her assistance in the cataloguing of this lot.
1. Inv. no. GK 57; see Henderiks 2011, pp. 349–50, cat. no. 13, reproduced in colour.
2. See Henderiks 2011, pp. 350–51, cat. no. 14, reproduced in colour.
3. See the infrared reflectography image of the Suermondt-Ludwig-Museum, Aix-la-Chapelle painting; Henderiks 2011, reproduced p. 270.
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