Renaissance Art expert needed!

[LEFT][LEFT]Pioro first want to thank you for your interest and time devoted to my post. You are rigth the last name is Kurtz we read his book Christ before Pilate that talks about how the artist paint the trilogy. this tells the painter made ​​several pencil sketches including a full-scale, also made 4 paintings at scale 2 we have found one is in the Museum d’Orsay in Paris, the other was auctioned a few years ago the house lemperetz. When compared in detail the first impression is they were painted by different artists. When this forum allows me to attach files I will send you the photo of the painting. If the museum in Canada is the Art Gallery Of Hamilton I write some time ago but the answer was is a fake copy, I send the links included the Munckasy appears in the cross.[/LEFT]
[LEFT]I wait for your comments.[/LEFT]


It’s pretty clear that the picture you found on the website you posted originally is a copy, and by someone else. The style and skill are so very different from Munkascsy’s known works that it’s obvious. And if all these art experts and museums are telling you it’s a copy by another person - then you can trust them. After all, if you had found something that was really Munkascy’s, they’d be very excited and want to see it or buy it.

Consider the fact that the picture was exhibited very widely, to a huge audience of people. Artists-in-training very often go to museums and galleries to copy the ‘masters’ in order to learn their own craft better. It was - is - a normal part of art training to copy recognized masters. So it is normal that there would be lots and lots of copies of this painting in various media (charcoal, pen-and-ink, pencil, oil, watercolor, etc.): it was exhibited to thousands of people. Just as today, people would hold up their phones and take a picture of paintings they like, so in that time, artists and illustrators and amateurs who could draw a little bit would take along their sketch books and make their own copy. (Most people wouldn’t have had a camera - easy-to-carry cameras that were cheap enough for everyone hadn’t been invented yet.) People who could draw would want to share the picture with others as well as test and improve their skill by making their own version of it. You could probably fill a small gallery with copies of the picture made by very ordinary people - if you could find the copies. But there would be thousands, possibly, the same way there are thousands of pictures of the Mona Lisa on thousands of phones and digital cameras all over the world.

Also, consider that of course publishers of religious cards and religious books and illustrated Bibles would always be looking for a cheap way to include ‘famous’ paintings in their materials. Just think about da Vinci’s Last Supper. How many thousands and hundreds of thousands of versions of that painting are there in the world, made by thousands of artists and illustrators, professional and amateur?

If someone were publishing an illustrated Bible or wanted to sell cheap prints of the Last Supper, what would he do? He’d find the most famous painting of that and make a copy of it in his own hand. His copy would be his to use and sell any way he wanted to, and he wouldn’t have to pay anyone for the right to use the image.

I think you’ve got the same case going on here. I believe you said that very few people have painted pictures of Christ before Pilate. In that case, the most famous one - the one that was exhibited to thousands of people in the US and in Europe - is going to be the one that is copied again and again and again by various artists, illustrators (and amateurs who went to see the pictures and wanted to ‘take home’ a copy) and used for commercial purposes: as illustrations in books, as illustrations for religious cards and bookmarks, and as cheap prints to hang on the walls of homes, churches, and classrooms where religion is taught.

Even today, you can buy a ‘fine art’ reproduction of the painting that looks like ‘the real thing,’ the same way you can buy ‘The Last Supper’ in any kind of medium (we have one at home that’s done in metal of some sort). In the mid-1900s in the US there was a big market for ‘paint-by-the-numbers’ versions of famous painting. The canvas had the outlines of the painting sketched with numbers in each space on the painting. The numbers corresponded to colors. You got this canvas, a ‘key’ that told you what numbers were what colors, and you got a set of paints and a brush. Average people with no artistic skill could fill in the blanks on the canvas with the appropriate colors and end up with a painting of da Vinci’s Last Supper (or pretty much any other famous painting or pretty scene that they wanted to hang on their walls). There are probably thousands of ‘da Vinci’s’ Last Supper in thousands of attics and garages in the US - all hand-painted by children and adults who had no talent at all. Scrape the paint off and you’ll see the numbers on the canvas.

So you see, there are simply going to be many, many copies of this painting, and by ‘copies’ I mean copies made by other people, not sketches or copies made by Munkascy. It’s very obvious that the copies made by Munkascy will look like something he painted, and the copies made by people of lesser talent will look quite different. It is extremely difficult for a painter to make a copy of an original and make it so like the original artist’s style of painting (his brush-strokes, his way of mixing paint, etc.) that an expert will be fooled and think that the copy is by the original artist. And in this case, even I can see that the first painting you linked to is nothing like a Munkascy. It’s also not like a da Vinci or a Monet or even something by Walt Disney. It’s by someone else - that’s very clear.


Consider also that the copy you’ve found was very likely made in order to illustrate a book or to be printed in many copies and sold. You can look into this process - of making many copies of some colored print - and find out which colors reproduced best. I think you’ll find - if you look at many illustrated Bibles or holy cards or religious prints - that the colors used tend to be the same: reds, blues, yellows, etc., and all in the same shade of red, blue, yellow, etc. There won’t be any subtle shadings; there won’t be any dramatic shadows; the faces of the people will look bland and not individual - they will not look like some person was the model, but like a kind of ‘general face’ rendered very simply so it will reproduce well on machines - as is the case in the original link you posted.

This is one way it’s easy to tell at a glance that you are dealing with a ‘cheap print’ made for mass production: they tend always to look the same - the same style and colors. There’s no individuality to them. The colors are the same in all of them; there are no subtleties of light and shade that would be hard to mass-produce using machines. And the images are very, very simple: few details, nothing subtle, because the machines used for mass reproduction in those days could not reproduce anything subtle. There had to be large blocks of color, large blocks of space, and very simple lines for the machines to be able to copy it.


To get an idea of how similar these illustrations would look - & the colors typically used - look at these illustrations:,%20Resurrection%20and%20Ascention/index.html

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about when I say that a famous painting would be used by an inferior artist or illustrator to make a simple image that could be mass-produced.

Look at William Holman Hunt’s ‘Light of the World’:

Here is a mass-produced image of ‘Jesus knocking at the door’:,%20Book%20Six/target50.html

You can see that these two images - the one by the very skilled artist & the one made for mass reproduction - are as different as an original Munkascy & the imitation you found on the Internet.

Have a look here, & you will see many versions of the theme of Jesus knocking at the door, & most of them are simplified, cheap ‘interpretations’ of Hunt’s painting, made for easy reproduction:

Notice that all the ‘Jesus knocks’ illustrations are a little bit different because they were made by different illustrators. But they are all in a similar ‘style’, especially the older ones that would have been mass-reproduced by primitive methods for reproducing colored images.

And that may be why no one can tell you where your illustration came from: because so many of those illustrations based on the Munkascy picture were made by so many publishers of religious cards & illustrated Bibles & cheap ‘religious prints’ that it’s impossible to track down where this one came from. The firm that produced it is probably long out of business - along with tens of other firms that also reproduced it, & their records have been lost over the decades.

Anyone can set up shop & make copies of famous paintings; anyone can draw his own version of a famous painting & sell it. And lots of people do. Trying to figure out - a hundred and more years later - who made this particular cheap copy for mass reproduction is very difficult. But it certainly can’t be from the hand of Munkascy. It looks too much like something made for the purposes of mass reproduction on primitive color reproduction machines.

I think you have to accept what the experts say: you’ve found a mass-produced, inferior copy of the general scene as first done by Munkascy. But you most certainly have not found a genuine Munkascy. It’s more like a cartoon version of a Munkascy.

Have a look at websites that sell old religious cards. As you look at the cards & the illustrations from children’s Bibles, as well as ‘religious’ or ‘Bible’ prints that were used to teach religion to children, you will see that they all tend to look rather alike. Each manufacturer of these items had a similar ‘style’ depending on the commercial illustrators hired to make their cards and illustrations. The colors tend to be the same (maybe soft pastels with a blue background for ‘holy cards’ & vivid primary colors for images used for children). It’s like there’s a ‘style’ that tells you: this is a mass-produced color illustration.

Here is a useful site for seeing the similarities among these mass-produced images for children’s Bibles, religious cards & prints, etc:

Note the website’s explanation about the similarity among the images found in such books:

Old Bible story books for children contain a wealth of wonderful pictures useful for sermon illustrations, Bible class presentations, and writings. The following are some from my collection whose copyright have expired and, hence, are in the public domain and are free to be used.

Not all pictures from the books have been copied. Often the older books copied illustrations from each other, so I am trying to avoid repeats. I also left out images which were noteably inaccurate or which contained inappropriate drawings.

‘Often older books copied illustrations from one another’ - that’s why you find very small differences among the versions of ‘Christ before Pilate’ that were reproduced in mass quantities: an illustrator from one publishing firm was making his own version of an illustration by another publishing firm - & all were making copies of copies of Munkascy’s original.

As you look through the pictures on the site linked above, I think you’ll see what is meant. Jesus tends to look similar, or scenes are set up in similar ways. I noticed on two that Pilate has the same hair-style & general appearance, but is posed in a different way.

I think that the more you explore how publishers of mass-produced religious illustrations worked, the more you will see why there are the slight differences among the many mass-produced reproductions of Christ before Pilate.

You could probably do the same thing with Hunt’s ‘Light of the World’ by comparing all the small differences among the ‘Jesus knocks at the door’ illustrations that were based on Hunt’s original. You’ll see that they may have taken some details away (Jesus is not carrying a lamp, for example) and changed some things (Jesus is facing in a different direction) to make the picture ‘their own.’ And then, when someone copies that copy, he changes the way the door looks, or the color of Jesus’s robe, or the way his hand is held while knocking. But all of them can probably trace their inspiration back to Hunt’s famous ‘Light of the World.’ The original artist had a great idea and made a great picture; illustrators capitalize on the idea by making their own cheap, easy-to-reproduce, simplified versions.

Pioro: Good day i send one link in this have some pencils drawings made by Mr Munkacsy, and the Title is Christ Before Pilate items 405,406,407,410 but if you look and conpare with the oil painting special the faces you may discovery many differences.
I wait your comments.

[LEFT][LEFT]Pioro: first want to thank you for your interest and time to my questions and comments, I apologize but I think that I could not express well my questions. You are right all the material found in the web are copies, example the sites that you send to me E Bay and i correct my question by reading the book by Charles Kurtz talks about that before making the masterpiece painted 4 of this scale and i identified 3 the one in his museum, one in Orsay Museum, another in the auction house Lemperetz. The fourth and searched and i could not find. And I wonder if all the scala paints at all follow have the same pattern of changes. I hope now you can understand what I minds.[/LEFT]
[LEFT]Best Regards[/LEFT]

Pioro: How are you, i send the image of the painting. When compared this and the main work you will see many resenblance, but when you see carefully you will note small details that you dont find in reproductions, lithografs, engravings. There is one detail that catches my attention the beam of the temple in all all images found in the web always have wide beam, the only narrow is the one that are in Orsay Museum and this. I wait for your comments
Best Regards

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