Old Woman Praying

Matthias Stom (Dutch, Amersfoort?, born ca. 1599–1600, died after 1652 ?Italy)

late 1630s or early 1640s
Oil on canvas
30 5/8 x 25 1/8 in. (77.8 x 63.8 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Ian Woodner, 1981
Accession Number:
  • Gallery Label

    The earliest known reference to Stom (wrongly called Stomer in modern literature) dates from 1630, when he was living in the same house in Rome that the Utrecht painter Paulus Bor occupied about five years earlier. About 1632 Stom went to Naples, and in the 1640s he was active in Palermo and elsewhere in Sicily. Antonio Ruffo, the nobleman in Messina for whom Rembrandt painted "Aristotle with a Bust of Homer" (61.198) in 1653, purchased three works by Stom between 1646 and 1649. Both the name Stom and the usual description of him as "fiamingo" indicate that he was Flemish, not Dutch. He specialized in exaggerated Caravaggesque effects of light and shadow, with leathery surfaces suited to his frequent representation of elderly characters.

  • Catalogue Entry


  • Provenance

    Benedict Nicolson, London (by 1954–early 1960s; sold to Arcade Gallery); [Arcade Gallery, London, early 1960s–about 1969; sold to Moss]; [Stanley Moss and Ian Woodner, New York, from about 1969; sold by Moss to Woodner]; Ian Woodner, New York (until 1981)

  • Exhibition History

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Age of Rembrandt: Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," September 18, 2007–January 6, 2008, no catalogue.

  • References

    H[enri]. Pauwels. "Nieuwe Toeschrijvingen aan M. Stomer." Gentse Bijdragen tot de Kunstgeschiedenis 15 (1954), p. 233, fig. 1, attributes it to Stom and mentions that it has recently been cleaned; as in the collection of Benedict Nicolson, London.

    Benedict Nicolson. The International Caravaggesque Movement. Oxford, 1979, p. 96 [2nd ed., rev. and enl. by Luisa Vertova, "Caravaggism in Europe," Turin, 1989, vol. 1, p. 187; vol. 3, pl. 1527], lists it as "Old Woman Telling Beads" by Stom, formerly in the collection of Benedict Nicolson, London.

    Walter A. Liedtke in The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Notable Acquisitions, 1980–1981. New York, 1981, pp. 43–44, ill.

    Dennis P. Weller. Sinners & Saints, Darkness and Light: Caravaggio and His Dutch and Flemish Followers. Exh. cat., North Carolina Museum of Art. Raleigh, 1998, p. 203, fig. 1, under no. 39; p. 235, no. 9, ill., dates it about 1635–40.

    Walter Liedtke. Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, vol. 1, p. x; vol. 2, pp. 744, 849–51, no. 198, colorpl. 198, dates it to the late 1630s or early 1640s.

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History