Christ at the Column
Matthias Stomer, Dutch, Christ at the Column, ca. 1635, Oil on canvas; 182.9 x 114.5 cm (72 x 45 1/8 inches), Museum Works of Art Fund 56.177
Stomer portrays a stooped and vulnerable Christ, his head crowned with thorns and his eyes cast upward beseechingly. A jailer chains him to a low column whose form refers to the black granite relic of the Flagellation preserved in the Roman Basilica of Santa Prassede. The dramatic treatment of light and shadow that illuminates Christ’s form reflects the lingering influence of the Italian painter Caravaggio (ca. 1571- 1610) on Netherlandish artists in Italy. Stomer received early training in the southern Netherlands, most likely at Utrecht, but was established in Rome by 1630. He traveled to Naples in 1633 and to Sicily around 1640. Although undated, Christ at the Column has been ascribed to Stomer’s time in Naples, where a painting bearing this title was documented in the former church of Saint Efremo.