The Denial of Saint Peter (Hendrick ter Brugghen)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
The Denial of Saint Peter
Dutch: De verloochening van Petrus, French: Le reniement de saint Pierre
The Denial of Saint Peter by Hendrick ter Brugghen
ArtistHendrick ter Brugghen
Year1628 (1628)
CatalogueA35,[1] A30[2]
Mediumoil on canvas
SubjectDenial of Peter
Dimensions132.3 cm × 178 cm (52.1 in × 70 in)
LocationArt Institute of Chicago, Chicago

The Denial of Saint Peter[3][4] is a painting by Hendrick ter Brugghen, a member of the Dutch Caravaggisti, depicting Saint Peter's thrice denial of Christ as recounted in all four Gospels. It is thought to have been painted after 1625, and thus in the last three years of Ter Brugghen's life; he died in 1629. The painting shows a marked departure from Ter Brugghen's earlier painting in its emphasis on play of light, its baroque quality and a resolved sensibility.[5]


The painting depicts a scene from the Denial of Peter as specifically recounted in the Gospel of Luke:

"And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the hall, and were set down together, Peter sat down among them. But a certain maid beheld him as he sat by the fire, and earnestly looked upon him, and said, This man was also with him. And he denied him, saying, Woman, I know him not." Luke 22:55-57[6]

The action takes place in an interior. Two soldiers are warming themselves around a fire, one evidently asleep, one rousing as a servant girl points at Saint Peter in the act of accusing him. He is cowering in the very left of the painting. Diametrically opposite and in a separate scene is Christ taken by soldiers. Their fence-like sticks echoes that of the soldier on the ground, the sticks in the fire, illuminating the scene, and the tent-pole or stick behind Peter and his accuser.[5]

A figure stares out at the viewer from the scene of the taking of Christ. This scene is taken from Albrecht Dürer's Small Passion: Pilate Washing his Hands of 1512 where it is also used as a background motif and, in much the same way, implicates the viewer, through the staring soldier, in the foreground goings-on; there Pilate absolving himself, here Peter himself.[5]

Albrecht Dürer, Pilate Washing his Hands, engraving on copper, 118 × 75 mm, Metropolitan Museum of Art

A painting in the Shipley Art Gallery in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, England, attributed to Ter Brugghen, appropriates Dürer's composition directly and in reverse. This is again copied in another, nearly identical, painting by Ter Brugghen in the Lublin Museum, Poland.

The soldier supporting himself on his hands, perhaps in the act of getting up, is similar to a semi-recumbent figure in the left foreground of Caravaggio's Martyrdom of Saint Matthew installed in the Contarelli Chapel, Rome in July 1600; early enough for Ter Brugghen to have known it during his sojourn in the Eternal City no later than 23 April 1607 when he is placed there by Utrecht records.[7] The second soldier, to the right, is taken from The Resurrection of Christ from Albrecht Dürer's Small Passion.[8]

Albrecht Dürer, The Resurrection, woodcut, 12.7 x 9.8 cm, Metropolitan Museum of Art

The figure of the maidservant has her closest parallel in a fragment of a Denial at Stourhead, where the accusing arm is modelled in the same manner.[2] The female model appears elsewhere, in The Concert (about 1927), wearing a similar headdress and costume, and in Girl Blowing on a Firebrand (circa 1626-1627).[1]

Origins and Provenance[edit]

Ter Brugghen's Denial has strong similarities in style to his The Liberation of Peter at the Staatliche Museum, Schwerin. Here the sparseness of the composition has done away altogether with the tradition of having two sleeping guards present. The picture is signed and dated 1629, the year Ter Brugghen died, giving us an indication that Denial might also have been painted around this time.[9]

The Art Institute of Chicago next finds the present painting in the collection of Reedtz-Thott, Guanø Castle near Næstved, Denmark, by about 1750. It was owned by Baron Kjeld Thor Tage Otto Reedtz-Thott (1839-1923), 2nd Baron Guanø by at least 1914, from whom it descended to Baron Axel Reedtz-Thott. He sold it to a London dealer in the late 1960s. By 1968, it was with Wildenstein & Company, New York[10] and was purchased by the Chicago Institute in February 1969 from the Charles H. and Mary F. S. Worcester Collection.[8]

Referenced works[edit]


  1. ^ a b Slatkes, Leonard; Wayne Franits (2007). The Paintings of Hendrick ter Brugghen (1588-1629): Catalogue Raisonné. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company. pp. 126–127. ISBN 9789027249616. Retrieved 22 July 2013.
  2. ^ a b Nicolson, Benedict (1958). Hendrick Terbrugghen. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff. pp. 66–67.
  3. ^ Leonard J. Slatkes; Wayne Franits (2007). The Paintings of Hendrick Ter Brugghen, 1588-1629: Catalogue Raisonné. J. Benjamins Publishing Company. pp. 126–128, 165, 167, 222. ISBN 9789027249616. Retrieved 27 June 2013.
  4. ^ Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie. "De verloochening van Petrus". Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie. Retrieved 28 June 2013.
  5. ^ a b c Seaman, Natasha Therese (2012). The Religious Paintings of Hendrick Ter Brugghen: Reinventing Christian Painting After the Reformation in Utrecht. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. pp. 151–154. ISBN 9781409434955.
  6. ^ Luke 22:55-57, King James Version (Oxford Standard, 1769)
  7. ^ Tajan. "Sale 7737 Lot 12 HENDRICK TER BRUGGHEN (DEVENTER 1588 - UTRECHT 1629) LE RENIEMENT DE SAINT PIERRE". Tajan. Retrieved 27 June 2013.
  8. ^ a b C. C. C. (November 1969). "The Denial of St. Peter by Hendrick Terbrugghen". Calendar of the Art Institute of Chicago. 63 (5): 8–9. JSTOR 4117498.
  9. ^ Weller, Dennis P. (1998). Sinners and Saints Darkness and Light: Caravaggio and His Dutch and Flemish Followers. Raleigh: North Carolina Museum of Art. pp. 107–110. ISBN 0882599801.
  10. ^ Art Institute of Chicago. "The Denial of Saint Peter, 1626/1629". AIC. Retrieved 28 June 2013.