Prayer Bead with the Crucifixion and Jesus before Pilate


On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 306

This carving of exquisite complexity was surely intended for prayer during Holy Week, when the full drama of the final days of Jesus’ life are traced. In the lower half of the bead, Pontius Pilate washes his hands of responsibility for the fate of Jesus. In a master stroke, the carver has made the stream of water stand free of the background. As if to remind us to look carefully, he shows a figure near the front poring over a text with the aid of magnifying glasses. Is the artist also hinting that magnification facilitated his own work? The carving warrants a careful look, for at the back Jesus is led away and then flogged.

Prayer Bead with the Crucifixion and Jesus before Pilate, Boxwood, Netherlandish

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