This monumental circular composition by Konstantinos Parthenis depicting the over-life-size head of Christ rivets the eye of the visitor to the National Gallery. Christ, here a mature bearded man wearing the crown of thorns, turns his tearful, agonized gaze heavenward. A torrent of yellow-gold light replaces the halo and bathes the divine face, bestowing on it an otherworldly glow and emphasizing its modeling.
The humanized dogma and the dramatic rendering of the Passion belong to the iconography of the Catholic Church as it was formulated in the time of the Counter-Reformation and dominated the Baroque (17th century). Parthenis’ Christ belongs to a typology frequently encountered in El Greco, but this specific composition appears to be inspired by a similar circular composition by Guido Reni. The subject, the emotional charge, the dominant blue palette, and the pointillist technique classify this mature work by Parthenis within the Symbolism of the Vienna Secession, where he did his apprenticeship as a young painter.