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Christ Before Pilate

Illman Brothers, Philadelphia

Christ Before Pilate, 1880

Engraving on Paper



The Illman Brothers, Edward and George, were prominent engravers in Philadelphia during the 19th century. This highly detailed print depicts Jesus Christ, bound in rope, brought to trial before Pontius Pilate. The scene is filled with expression and emotion from the crowds in the background, who shout and wave their arms wildly. Meanwhile, the primary figures of Christ and Pilate remain calm and collected, the former facing his fate, the latter making his momentous decision. The quality of the engraving is remarkable in the intense details, not just to the figures and foreground, but also the landscape in the background and the décor of the courtroom. The style of clothing and decoration befit the time period and location of Christ’s trial. The image is a remarkably vivid depiction of an epic moment in Christianity.

Current Condition of the Artwork:

The two objects are glued back to back and are both deteriorated, brittle and discolored. The print is identified as the accessioned object and the linen fabric and photograph appear to have been glued to the print backing to mend its numerous physical damages. The photographic image is in relative good condition. The print is most notably dirty, stained, torn, and ragged. There are extraneous papers adhered to the front surfaces of both objects. 

Conservation Treatment Proposed: 

  • Separate photo mount, fabric, and print with an aqueous treatment.
  • Clean surface and remove accretions.
  • Remove tape/mending and backing.
  • Separate objects by lifting linen, then removing and discarding the linen.
  • Wash the print only.
  • Use alkaline rinse/buffer.
  • Reduce overpaint from print  as much as is safely possible.
  • Mend/reinforce.
  • Humidify and flatten.
  • All materials used will be appropriate and conservation quality. All work will adhere to the highest standards of the field.

Estimated Cost of Treatment:  $3,200.00