Man of Sorrows (Maarten van Heemskerck)  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Man of Sorrows

The Dutch painter Maarten van Heemskerck (1498-1574) painted the subject of the Man of Sorrows three times. One version (1532) is in Ghent[1][2]. The version depicting a most phallic Jesus[3] is located in the Bob Jones University Collection and the third version's location is unknown. The subject depicts Christ after the crucifixion attended by angels, with wounds prominently displayed, wearing the crown of thorns and a loincloth. The loincloth is claimed to be wrapped around an erect phallus, visible to some art historians but not to others. Van Heemskerck is not the only Renaissance artist to depict Christ with an erection (see for example one print by Ludwig Krug). Steinberg interprets the phallicism of Jesus as a symbol of his resurrection and continuing power.

All three versions of Man of Sorrows are depicted in Leo Steinberg's monograph The Sexuality of Christ in Renaissance Art and Modern Oblivion (see below).


  • Maerten van Heemskerck, Man of Sorrows, c. 1525-30 (77.5 X 54.6). Greenville, South Carolina, Bob Jones University Collection. Fig. 96.
  • Maerten van Heemskerck, Man of Sorrows, 1532 (90 X 65). Ghent, Museum voor Schone Kunsten. Fig. 97.
  • Maerten van Heemskerck, Man of Sorrows, 1525 (120 X 95). Whereabouts unknown. Fig. 98.

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