A Florentine painter, known only as the Master of San Martino alla Palma, produced this painting in the mid-fourteenth century. The Flagellation depicts the whipping of Christ by Roman soldiers before his crucifixion. Many Christians practiced self-flagellation, or Mortification of the Flesh, during the era of this painting. Today, it is primarily monastics who practice self-flagellation, often more mildly than is depicted here. Those that did not practice the extreme devotion meditated upon scenes of Christ’s pain such as this. The iconic scene’s poignancy is increased by the eye contact between Christ and one of the Roman soldiers assaulting him. The twisted figures, against the golden background, is simplistically captivating. This painting was a gift to the College by the Kress Foundation. Samuel Kress cherished European, and especially Italian, art. Between 1929 and 1961, his namesake Foundation donated collections to public and private institutions to continue their mission of an increased understanding and appreciation of European art and architecture.
-Charla Hamilton, Class of 2015