The painting of Jesus being presented to the people after his scourging was commissioned by a family originally depicted in the lower corners. These sections were damaged and overpainted at an early date, and the remnants of the figures now visible were uncovered only a few years ago. The variation in size is a reflection of status. The children are much smaller in scale than both the father and one of the sons, whose tonsure identifies him as a monk. It is this son who virtually ‘utters’ the Latin inscription formulating the donor family’s prayer: “Redeem us, Christ, Saviour.”
The Städelscher Museums-Verein had been in existence for less than twenty years when it purchased this painting during the First World War, at the 1917 auction of the private collection of the Berliner Richard von Kaufmann. By then, the work had been painted over in such a way as to distort the meaning. Christ, originally clad only in a loincloth, had been enveloped in a floor-length garment. The arrival of the new acquisition at the museum led to this first discovery when it was returned to its original state before it was presented to the public. The X-ray examination carried out in 1983 revealed another find: a donor family had at one point been portrayed in the foreground but had then been painted over. Since its arrival at the Städel, this work by Bosch has completed the world-famous Netherlandish department in the Städel Museum.