The "man of sorrows" the suffering Christ showing his wounds, here in the presence of two commiserating angels is an old theme in the art of painting, on which there are several variations. It symbolises the immortality of the Son of God by depicting his sacrifice. In this painting, this is done against a golden, and therefore divine, background. The tortured body of Christ is contorted with pain, and blood seeps out of his wounds. This single image of the "man of sorrows" can be read as a condensed rendition of the whole Passion. The painting was made around 1430, at the time when Jan van Eyck was working on his Ghent Altarpiece. It comes from the circle around the so-called Master of Flémalle, one of the first Flemish Primitives.
Emotion-filled images such as the "man of sorrows" were meant to help the faithful to identify with their Saviour in their prayers. The grief and compassion expressed in the angels' faces emphasise the dramatic content of the scene. It is no accident that these angels are dressed in deacon's robes: the core of the Eucharist is formed by the commemoration of the sacrifice of Jesus and the ritual offering of the "body of Christ"(the consecrated host).Another Man of Sorrows in the collection of the MSK is the one by Maarten van Heemskerck.
SizeH: 36 cm
MediumOil on panel