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Head and torso of a man with a crown of thorns and a wound on his chest.

A light-skinned man with long brown hair faces the viewer. On his head is a crown of thorny branches. Drops of blood flow from his forehead. Behind his head is a faint halo with rays extending from the sides. The man wears red and purple robes with a green collar. He holds up two fingers with his right hand and points to his chest with his left. Both hands have bloody gashes at the palm. At the point where his left hand touches, the robe is split open, revealing another bloody wound. Surrounding the man is a circular suspended curtain.

Gallery Text

In the fifteenth century, paintings executed on linen were common, particularly in northern Europe; however, because of their fragility, very few survive. This small image from Botticelli’s Florentine workshop adopts the Northern technique of linen painting and also draws from Northern depictions of Christ as the Man of Sorrows. Christ’s open mouth indicates that he is speaking, and his gesture conveys his meaning as he points to his side to indicate the wound there. As if commenting on the use of linen as a support, Botticelli develops the elaborate use of cloth as a means of unveiling: just as Christ appears before the opened curtains of the baldachin, his side wound is revealed through a tear in the purple fabric of his garment. The actual linen is torn where Christ indicates the wound, possibly as a consequence of repeated touching by the devout as they prayed before the image.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Workshop of Sandro Botticelli (Alessandro Filipepi), Italian (Florence, Italy 1444/45 - 1510 Florence, Italy)
Salvator Mundi
Work Type
c. 1490-1500
Creation Place: Europe, Italy, Tuscany, Florence
Persistent Link


Level 2, Room 2500, European Art, 13th–16th century, Art and Image in Europe
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Physical Descriptions

Distemper on linen
57.2 x 34.9 cm (22 1/2 x 13 3/4 in.)
framed: 69 x 51 x 9.5 cm (27 3/16 x 20 1/16 x 3 3/4 in.)

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Friends of the Fogg Art Museum Fund
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art

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Publication History

  • Burton B. Fredericksen and Federico Zeri, Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA, 1972), p. 33
  • Edgar Peters Bowron, European Paintings Before 1900 in the Fogg Art Museum: A Summary Catalogue including Paintings in the Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1990), pp. 99, 318, repr. b/w cat. no. 624
  • Laurence Kanter and Hilliard T. Goldfarb, Botticelli's Witness: Changing Style in a Changing Florence, exh. cat., Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, MA, 1997), pp. 41-43, repr. p. 41
  • Alexandra Grömling and Tilman Lingesleben, Alessandro Botticelli, 1444/45-1510, Könemann Verlagsgesellschaft (Köln, Germany, 1998), p. 98, fig. 109, repro in color
  • Alessandro Cecchi, Botticelli, Federico Motta Editore (Milan, 2005), p. 332
  • Bart Devolder, "Two 15th-Century Italian Paintings on Five-Weave Supports and Their Relationship to Netherlandish Canvas Paintings" (thesis (certificate in conservation), Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, 2005), Unpublished, pp. 1-193 passim
  • Stephan Wolohojian and Alvin L. Clark, Jr., Harvard Art Museum/ Handbook, ed. Stephan Wolohojian, Harvard Art Museum (Cambridge, 2008), p. 63, repr.

Exhibition History

  • Botticelli's Witness: Changing Style in a Changing Florence, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, 01/24/1997 - 05/11/1997
  • 32Q: 2500 Renaissance, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

  • Google Art Project

Related Works

Verification Level

This record was created from historic documentation and may not have been reviewed by a curator; it may be inaccurate or incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of European and American Art at