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The Arrest of ChristEnlarge image

The Arrest of Christ, c. 1630-1632

Matthias Stom
Dutch, 1600 - 1650
oil on canvas
151.3 x 205.3 cm; 191.2 x 245.2 x 11.0 cm (framed)
Purchased 1933
National Gallery of Canada (no. 4094)

Christ and Judas are dramatically lit by the torch while the other figures emerge from the darkness only where the light catches them. This work was likely painted in Rome, where Stom was inspired by the example of Caravaggio and his followers. Christ's robes would have suggested historic costume to contemporary viewers; in contrast, the men arresting him wear something closer to modern dress. Caravaggio championed anachronism - the violation of historical accuracy - as a means of giving biblical subjects urgency by connecting them to modern life. Significantly, Stom has applied this interpretive freedom only to the secondary figures; Christ's appearance and clothing are traditional. The image is a compound of new and old - Christ's life played out in modern times. Frame: carved and gilded wood. Italy, 17th century.

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