Hendrick ter Brugghen (Dutch, 15881629)
Oil on canvas; 61 x 40 1/4 in. (154.9 x 102.2 cm)
Funds from various donors, 1956 (56.228)
This canvas of about 1625 was painted as an altarpiece, probably for a Catholic "hidden church." Until recently it was mistakenly assumed that ter Brugghen was Catholic, not Protestant, in part because he responded so sympathetically to commissions such as this one. The strikingly archaic qualities of the picture, such as the angular figure of Christ, the shallow space, and the starry sky, have reminded many viewers of late medieval woodcuts, prints by Dürer, and Grünewald's Isenheim altarpiece (Colmar, France). It appears likely that the Museum's painting was made to replace an earlier altarpiece that had been damaged or destroyed. In other works, ter Brugghen's realistic figures and handling of light made him one of the leading figures of the Caravaggesque movement in Utrecht. However, his sense of color and rhythmic line are among the hallmarks of a distinctive personal style.