El Santo Ecce Homo del Portal

El Santo Ecce Homo del Portal

José Benito Ortuño, Mexican
Accession Number
Credit Line
Gift of the Collection of Frederick and Jan Mayer

José Benito Ortuño, El Santo Ecce Homo del Portal, 1700s. Engraving; 2¾ × 2⅜ in. Gift of the Collection of Frederick and Jan Mayer, 2013.340.

height: 2 3/4 in, 6.9850 cm; width: 2 3/8 in, 6.0325 cm
BC: "El Sto. Ecce Homo del Portal ortuñ"
Mayer Center, Latin American Art
Latin American Art

Devotion to miraculous images was often enhanced by the circulation of engraved copies. This engraving shows the Santo Ecce Homo del Portal, a miraculous image in Mexico City that has been lost, making it an important record of a local advocation. The original image was placed in a niche in the Portal de las Mercaderes on the Plaza Mayor in Mexico City, a series of archways along the west side of the plaza where merchants had their stalls. While both the original image and engraving are known as the Ecce Homo del Portal, the name is slightly inaccurate, as the Ecce Homo was the moment when Pilate presented Christ before a ravening crowd before his crucifixion. Instead, here we see Christ as the Christ of Humility (or Patience), showing him in the moments before his crucifixion, looking out at the viewer with his chin resting on one hand. This diminutive copy of the local advocation would have been used in private devotion.

The small signature “Ortuñ” in the bottom right corner suggests that the work is by the engraver José Benito Ortuño. Little of Ortuño’s life is documented in the historical record. He was active in Mexico City from the 1750s to 1808. Though he was unsuccessful in securing a position at the Royal Mint, he was still able to establish a successful workshop on the Calle de San Hipólito in Mexico City.

– Kathryn Santner, Frederick and Jan Mayer Fellow of Spanish Colonial Art, 2022

Known Provenance
Provenance research is on-going at the Denver Art Museum. Please e-mail provenance@denverartmuseum.org, if you have questions, or if you have additional information to share with us.
Exhibition History
  • Exhibited, 2007, Sangre de Cristo Arts Center, Pueblo, CO.