Pilate Washing His Hands, 1512
engraving on laid paper
11.8 x 7.4 cm
National Gallery of Canada (no. 5607)
Pilate washes his hands, declaring himself innocent in the crowd’s demand for the execution of Christ. Dürer’s detailed rendering of the figures demonstrates true mastery of gesture and facial expression. The artist has further embellished the scene with a standing figure who continues to collude quietly with Pilate, as a servant with unusual posture and dress pours water into a bowl. At the lower right, Christ is led away to be flogged, while in the distance crosses stand as a grim foretelling of his fate.