Rembrandt would create series of prints that could be distributed much more easily than selling his elaborate oil paintings, as well as being priced in a way that many more could afford. Frequently he would produce prints whilst still working on a design, using this process as a means to quality assuring the work that he had already done. Even prints of partially completed artworks would command huge figures today at auction, due to their connection to Rembrandt who remains one of the most respected artists in history. Intriguingly, Rembrandt owned an engraving from 1510 on which he clearly based much of the content found in Christ Presented to the People.
That work was produced by Lucas van Leyden and Rembrandt himself put together a formidable collection during his lifetime. He would actually be declared bankrupt as his purchasing obsession would ultimately outstrip his financial means. Others had advised him to be more prudent, but his response was to sell more of his own work in order to try to redress this inbalance. That period of financial difficulty would actually result in his repetitive use of self-portraiture, as these proved easy to sell. His etchings and drypoint pieces could also be used to produce series of prints that again suited commercial sales to support his lavish lifestyle.
The image that we find here has been described as an example of the best that 17th century printmaking has to offer, though many different states exist of the original design, meaning we can identify the individual changes made by the artist as he progressed this piece. Some of his drypoint pieces would take many years to complete, as he continued to rework some elements of them. Despite the financial pressures that built up on him, he stubbornly refused to sacrifice the quality of his work and this ensured that his reputation remained untarnished. Jesus here is presented to the crowd by Pontius Pilate, shouting Behold the Man, or Ecce Homo as per the scripture. He offered the crowd a choice of the freedom of Christ or Barabbas, but they could select only one.