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Ecce Homo, 1895-96

The third part of the Christ paintings is Ecce Homo, although it is the second in chronological order of the biblical story, as it again recalls the meeting of Christ and Pilate. The Pilate's judgement is to set the criminal Barnaby free and flog the innocent Jesus.

Sedelmeyer no longer had anthing to do anymore with the birth of the painting, as Munkácsy terminated his contract with him. It was Gábor Kádár, printer and graphic artist who convinced Munkácsy to complete the series. The artist, who was seriously ill by this time, embarked on creating the last big work of his life with the help of his apprentices. The main character here is the tortured Jesus standing on a balcony with pillars, with the crown of thorns on his head. Pilate is standing next to him and pointing at him and saying the well known saying: "Behold the Man!" Following Pilate's gesture, emotions erupt throughout the crowd, and the anger, fury and hate become almost palpable in the painting thanks to the psychological manner in which they are portrayed.

Many people thought they could recognize Munkácsy himself in the tormented figure of Christ, a man who was fighting illness, death and the loss of success. Historicism was beginning to fade from the public's eye and interest was springing up in new movements. The painting was exhibited in Budapest in 1896, and still attracted several hundred thousand people, although exhibitions abroad weren't as successful, nevertheless in 1899 in Ireland the then young - later world famous - James Joyce was amazed and wrote about his experience with rapturous words: "From all this it is clear, that the painting is wonderful and profound, silent dramatic atmosphere imbued, and as if by magic can come to live, can be real and erupt in conflict... it is obvious, that the artist's human perspective, is profoundly touchingly human."

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