Browse Lots

Global notice COVID-19 Important notice
Bartholomeus Breenbergh (Deventer 1598-1657 Amsterdam)
Bartholomeus Breenbergh (Deventer 1598-1657 Amsterdam)

Saint Paul and Saint Barnabus at Lystra

Details
Bartholomeus Breenbergh (Deventer 1598-1657 Amsterdam)
Saint Paul and Saint Barnabus at Lystra
signed and dated 'BB (in ligature) reenbargh. (sic) f. Ano. 1637' (lower right)
oil on panel
12 x 16½ in. (30.5 x 41.9 cm.)
Literature
M. Roethlisberger, 'New works by Bartholomeus Breenbergh', in Oud Holland, vol. 99, no. 1, 1985, p. 63, fig. 7.
M. Roethlisberger, in the exhibition catalogue, Bartholomeus Breenbergh, New York, 1991, no. 18.
Exhibited
New York, Richard L. Feigen & Co., Bartholomeus Breenbergh, 18 September-31 October 1991, no. 18; and London, 18 November-20 December 1991.

Lot Essay

The story of Saints Paul and Barnabas at Lystra (Acts 14: 8-18) revolves around the performance of a miracle - the saints' cure of a cripple - and the clash between pagan and Christian practice that followed. Believing that they were Mercury and Jupiter visiting the earth in human form, the pagan inhabitants of Lystra arranged for the sacrifice of a bull in their honor. When the sacrificial animal was brought to the altar, however, Paul and Barnabas 'rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out, and saying [you] should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein' (Acts 14: 14-15).

Breenbergh has depicted the most dramatic moment in the story. Paul and Barnabas stand on the steps at the left, one tearing at his clothes while the other rushes toward the altar, together staging a dramatic interruption of the ceremonial procession. At the lower left, the cripple stands without aid, to the amazement of his companions and the as yet unused implements of sacrifice appear at the lower right.

Breenbergh painted Saint Paul and Saint Barnabas at Lystra eight years after his return to the Netherlands from a ten-year stay in Italy. The influence of Breenbergh's Italian sojourn can still be seen in the landscape and architecture but his palette is more subdued than that employed in his earlier paintings. Breenbergh's treatment of Old Testament subjects at this point in his career reflects works by such 'Pre Rembrandtists' as Pieter Lastman, from whom he adopted more complex compositions and highly emotive figures. Breenbergh never employed the warm palette of later Italianate painters such as Jan Both and Karel Dujardin but the memory of Italy seems to have stayed firmly in his mind. In the late 1630s and 1640s he made some fifty prints after his own drawings of ruins in and around Rome, the structure at the left in this painting reminiscent of Castel Sant'Angelo. His production decreased significantly during the last fifteen years of his life and his paintings became larger in scale and more varied in format.

More from Old Master Paintings

View All
View All