The Restoration of ‘Jesus in Front of Pontius Pilate’

The Passion of Christ is one of the most depicted narratives in the history of art. It was, and is, such an important part of the Catholic faith, it is no wonder that artists painted it repeatedly. One such painting, Jesus in Front of Pontius Pilate, has recently been restored in the painting labs of the Vatican Museums thanks to Gary Tigges of the Texas Chapter!

In this particular painting, Jesus is portrayed standing before Pilate, awaiting to be sentenced to death due to accusations of blasphemy. While Jesus is recognizable by his halo, Pilate can be seen in the shadows on the left. His uncomfortable position was likely intentional as according to scriptures he did not want to be part of Jesus’s wrongful death. Pilate sits in anxiety, but Jesus stands tall and calm, accepting the fate that his Father had bestowed upon him. The unknown Nordic Master who completed this work in the mid-16th century, took both inspiration from his homeland, as well as from the Italian Renaissance.

This painting had been restored multiple times in the past, dating as far back as 1923. These former restorations had layered varnish and glues on the painting thereby diminishing some details. The highest priority for the restorers in this instance was to lighten the paint back to its original color after decades of buildup had darkened the palate. After the restoration of the varnish, the restorers strengthened the canvas and filled the lacunae in the framing. These precautions will make it so the restoration will last longer and remain stable for many years to come!

Jesus in Front of Pontius Pilate before the restoration.

Jesus in Front of Pontius Pilate after the restoration.