Collection Spotlight: Ecce Homo in the Marketplace

By Courtney Taylor (Detail photos by Zach Fox)

Follower of Joachim Beuckelaer (Flemish),  Ecce Homo with Market Scene,  c. 1550–1600, oil on panel, LSUMOA 85.35

Follower of Joachim Beuckelaer (Flemish), Ecce Homo with Market Scene, c. 1550–1600, oil on panel, LSUMOA 85.35

Currently on display as part of a recurring series of collection spotlight exhibitions is this large-scale Flemish painting, Ecce Homo in the Marketplace

Through various text panels and detail shots, the exhibition presents a comprehensive look at the marketplace and the vendors represented while contextualizing its relevance in relation to the time and location in which it originated, sixteenth-century Antwerp.

The kitchen and market scene paintings by Pieter Aertsen (1508–1575) and his nephew Joachim Beuckelaer (1533–1574) became popular in the sixteenth century, and later evolved into the independent genres of still life and everyday “genre” scene paintings that adorned seventeenth-century homes. The popularity of the paintings prompted many followers to copy their compositions. Once attributed to Antwerp painter Joachim Beuckelaer, LSU Museum of Art’s Ecce Homo is an example of a Beuckelaer-inspired composition likely painted by a follower of his. This painting is one of a few very similar compositions, including one in the collection of Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum.

Beuckelaer’s and his follower’s works merge the secular marketplace with religious themes. In Painting & the Market in Early Modern Antwerp, art historian Elizabeth Alice Honig suggests the Ecce Homo scene serves a moralizing reminder of individual responsibility. In the marketplace, buyers would need to discern the ripeness or fruits and the freshness of meat. They would need to exercise moral judgment to control their consumer and sexual appetites. Pontius Pilate presented a bruised body as evidence of Christ’s humanity rather than his divinity—this was a deception. Similarly, merchants present desirable, lush, fruits and manipulate meats to make them appear more fresh while hiding flaws. 

Visit the museum through February 2018 to dive further into this painting’s representations of sexual and consumer desires, judgement and justice, secular and religious ideas, and economic progress. By providing this scholarly analysis, the museum is able to shine a light on highlights in its holdings while fulfilling the mission of enriching through education. 

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Courtney Taylor is LSU MOA's curator.