Christ Ministered to by the Angels
Domenico Fetti, Italian, Christ Ministered to by the Angels, ca. 1620, Oil on canvas; 89.5 x 78.1 cm (35 1/4 x 30 3/4 inches), Museum Appropriation Fund 36.003
This biblical scene depicts a meal served to Christ at the conclusion of his forty days of fasting in the desert. Gracefully modeled angels have laid a table beneath a protective tree in an imaginary landscape that is imbued with the silvery light of northern Italy. They lean toward their seated guest with a tender concern that emphasizes his humanity. Indications of the temptations Christ endured in the desert are confined to the periphery. At lower left, a dark figure representing Satan prods Christ to turn stone into bread. Above left, and at lower right, he appears first on a mountain top and then at the pinnacle of a temple, where he twice refused Satan’s offer of the kingdoms of the world. The artist’s lively brushstrokes project a heightened sense of movement, but his emphasis on the simple activity of the meal demonstrates an aspect of Baroque painting that valued personal intimacy over dramatic action.