A Fragment of a 16th century Panel for the Breda Museum

Flanders, 1518-1520
Christ and the Samaritan Woman
Oil on panel
Breda, Museum
Photo : Breda Museum

15/5/14 - Acquisition - Breda, Museum - Nothing is known about this partial painting : its artist, the patron who commissioned it, nor for where it was intended. Acquired by the Breda Museum in 2013 from a private individual, thanks to a fundraising appeal and with the help of the Vereniging Rembrandt, it was probably part of a triptych and represents Christ and the Samaritan Woman of which we unfortunately see only their heads. On the left, the disciples come to Jesus after buying food, as narrated in Saint John’s Gospel (4, 4-14) while on the right the Samaritan woman is depicted a second time, returning to the city to announce that she has met Christ. Further back, in the center and on a hill, a group of kneeling men probably illustrate Jesus’ dialogue with the Samaritan : "Lord, said the woman, I see that you are a prophet. Our fathers prayed on this mountain ; and you say, that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem." "Woman, says Jesus, believe me, the time is coming when it will be neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem where you will pray to the Father."
However, the principal point of interest in this composition is the representation of the city in the background : we see Breda with such accuracy that it is possible to identify some buildings and thus date the painting to around 1518-1520.
The former director of the Breda museum, Jeroen Grosfeld, published a long article on this panel in the journal published by the museum. He evokes an engraving after Pieter de Swart who reproduced a similar view of the city in 1744 but, as pointed out by Jacques Foucart [1], it would be too much of a presumption to state that De Swart saw and copied this painting.

The style of the work is that of Antwerp Mannerism and, after evoking the Master of 1518, Jeroen Grosfeld suggests instead a painter in the circle of Joos van Cleve for the figures and that of Joachim Patinir for the landscape. Jacques Foucart however, supports an attribution to the Master of 1518.

Version française

Bénédicte Bonnet Saint-Georges, jeudi 15 mai 2014


[1] We would like to thank Jacques Foucart for his helping in writing this news item.

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