• Childhood of Christ

    Artist:
    Honthorst, Gerrit van. 1590-1656
    Technique:
    oil
    Dimensions:
    137x185 cm

Honthorst, Gerrit van. 1590-1656

Childhood of Christ

Holland, circa 1620

The city of Utrecht was an important artistic centre in Holland and gave the world a number of painters for whom the culture and art of Italy played a special role. Their work was strongly influenced by the visual language of Caravaggio. The distinctive placement of half-figures advanced to the foreground, contrasting nocturnal or artificial illumination that produces dramatic shadows and heightens the theatrical effect of a painting – those were the main features of the new type of picture that all the Caravaggisti employed. The Childhood of Christ by Gerrit van Honthorst is a typical example of this tendency. The artist had travelled extensively in Italy and already made a name for himself there. A high opinion of Honthort’s mastery of chiaroscuro composition and his talents as a colourist is reflected in his Italian nickname: Gherardo delle notti – “Gerard of the Nights”. The artist produced several works on religious subjects, but they are lacking the high emotional content of canvases to adorn churches or cathedrals. We have here an almost intimate scene. The boy is holding a candle, helping his carpenter father to complete a piece of work late in the evening. Only the title of the piece and the allegory of Christ bringing light to all humanity turn this genre scene into an interpretation of the Gospel words: "I am the light of the world" (John, 8:12).

Title:

Childhood of Christ

Place:

Date:

Material:

Technique:

oil

Dimensions:

137x185 cm

Acquisition date:

Entered the Hermitage in 1925; handed over from the collection of P.P. Durnovo in Petersburg

Inventory Number:

ГЭ-5276

Category:

Collection: