Christ in front of Caiaphas by Hans Holbein

Christ in front of Caiaphas by Hans Holbein

“The Passion of the Lord in gray tones” are considered one of the main creations of Hans Holbein the Elder. The cycle was named after the gray monochrome color scheme, made in the grisaille technique, imitating a sculpture. These are 12 paintings about the last episodes of Christ’s earthly life.

The court of Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin became one of the subjects of the Passion Cycle in the first centuries of Christianity. The Sanhedrin can be represented either by three priests, or Caiaphas and Annoy, or by one Caiaphas. Hans Holbein the Elder depicts Christ exhausted after beatings and mockeries. Behind him stands a man with a stick raised for a blow and looks with hatred at Jesus.

The purpose of this trial of Christ is to find the legal basis for his condemnation to death after an unsuccessful attempt to find witnesses to the “blasphemy” of Christ. Here, Judas Iscariot’s testimony would be best for them, but he, repentant of betrayal, disappeared and could not be found.

Christ stands barefoot in front of Caiaphas, surrounded by guards. He is with cross-criss-crossed hands, guards with crossed stakes and sticks, with the help of which Jesus was put on a crown of thorns. This is an allusion to the cross of the Crucifixion.

Caiaphas is always depicted on the right side of the picturesque space of this story – in accordance with the accepted symbolic meaning of the right and left sides in religious Christian paintings.

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