21 February, 2007

Ecce Homo

This image is said to be the painting 'ecce homo' which challenged the 18-year-old Zinzendorf to commit his life to the service of Christ. However, in a twist worthy of Dan Brown, that ecce homo picture is decidedly elusive when you try and get beyond the stuff that everyone knows!

Accepted wisdom in Moravian circles is that it was painted by Domenico Feti – but I’ve really struggled to confirm that via artistic sources. I can find an ecce homo by Feti, but it is very different in style and has no inscription. Of course he may have painted more than one. It is also known that the same picture (supposedly!) inspired English hymn writer Frances Ridley Havergal to write ‘I gave my life for thee’ in the 19th century. One account of that event gives the latin inscription as Hoe feci pro te; quid facis pro me? My almost nonexistent Latin would seem to confirm that these words could be those which inspired Zinzendorf – but they almost certainly don’t match those beneath the painting shown at Zinzendorf.com. To further confuse matters, many versions of the Havergal story place the picture in Dusseldorf but cite the artist as Sternberg. Weinlick also suggests that the picture later hung in Munich!

Can anyone out there cast any light on the history of this enigmatic image, or confirm the exact text of the Latin inscription beneath it?

8 Comments:

Blogger SamErika said...

Hoe feci pro te; quid facis pro me?

I'd translate this somewhat loosely as:

"This is what I've done for you; What have you done for me?"

2:49 pm  
Anonymous PHIL said...

Thanks Sam/Erica. Can anyone now translate the words under the image at http://www.zinzendorf.com/feti.htm ?

3:17 pm  
Blogger the said...

I'm also researching on the same painting . . . that of Sternberg and of Feti - however, there are many different accounts of Havergal seeing Sternberg's version, but how could both "Ecce Homo" paintings have the same inscription? Also, the real "Ecce Homo" painting by Feti seems to not have this inscription, so it's very confusing indeed . . . let me know if you find out what's going on . . .

10:25 pm  
Blogger Phil Martin said...

The stories that I have read describe a picture with Christ as standing before pilate whipped and wearing the crown of thorns.
Spiritual Moments with the Great Hymns: Devotional Readings That Strengthen ... By Evelyn Bence
101 hymn stories By Kenneth W. Osbeck
I would enjoy finding out if find anything definitive.

8:18 pm  
Anonymous Parochus said...

The Latin should read "Hoc feci pro te; quid facis pro me?" and means "I did this for you; what are you doing for me?" The first word should be "hoc"; there is no word "hoe" in Latin.
The inscription under the Feti image says, "I suffered these things for you, but what have you done for me?" Same idea, but a little lengthier expression.

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