Indiana painted the fresco Pilate Washing His Hands during the summer of 1953, which he spent studying at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. There Indiana elected to enroll in a fresco course offered by Henry Varnum Poor, and he completed two frescos, which were later destroyed by fire. Pilate Washing His Hands, a panel under a tier of windows, was the smaller of the two works, and depicted Pilate washing his hands, a literal and symbolic washing his hands of his duty to judge Christ. In a 1965 interview with Arthur Carr Indiana noted this subject’s connection to the Crucifixion. Indiana developed an interest in the Crucifixion while working at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, where he proofed Edward N. West’s The History of the Cross, and in 1958 he completed his Crucifixion mural, Stavrosis.