This is Lorenzo Lotto’s version of The Adulterous Woman, now in the Louvre. It repays close inspection: you can see a range of accusatory expressions and gestures, a couple of bystanders, a smirking nosy-parker, a bored kid at the back, the woman herself, apprehensive, holding up her garments while she is menaced and assaulted by a soldier. And Christ is in the centre of the painting.
His figure is slighter than those of the other men. He holds Himself in the classic pose of authoritative ‘non-violent resistance’: He stands straight, His right hand raised as a psychological barrier and in gentle but firm rebuke, the other held back. He does not antagonise. His expression is serene; He holds his gaze towards a disputatious interlocutor. He is calm amongst the mob.
Gospel of John: 7:53 And every man went unto his own house.
8:1 Jesus went unto the mount of Olives.
8:2 And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.
8:3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,
8:4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.
8:5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?
8:6 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.
8:7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
8:8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
8:9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest,even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
8:10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
8:11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.