According to Giambatista Cardi, nephew of the Florentine artist Cigoli, Cardinal Massimo Massimi commissioned paintings on the theme of Ecce Homo from three artists, Cigoli, Caravaggio, and Domenico Passignano, without informing the artists of the multiple commissions. Cardi claimed the cardinal liked Cigoli's version best.
Stylistically, the painting displays characteristics of Caravaggio's mature Roman-period style. The forms are visible close-up and modelled by dramatic light, the absence of depth or background, and the psychological realism of, the torturer, who seems to mix sadism with pity. Pilate, in keeping with tradition, is shown as a rather neutral and perhaps almost sympathetic figure.