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Beuckelaer, Joachim (1533 - 1574)
Christ in the House of Martha and MaryDate: 1565
Movement: Renaissance (Late, Mannerism)
Theme: New Testament
Technique: Oil on wood
Museum: Royal Museum of Fine Arts
Size: 113 x 163 cm,
Notes: Jesus' visit to the house of Martha and Mary, taken from St Luke's Gospel, formed the basis of several representations from the mid-16th century onwards. In the religious context of the time, this scene illustrated one of the fundamental differences opposing Catholics and Protestants. The latter sought salvation in action whilst the former placed greater value on the contemplative life. Here the artist relegates the teaching of the divine word to the back of the painting, devoting the entire foreground to active life, incarnated by Martha, and in so doing juxtaposing a genre scene and a still-life. Like Aertsen, he assembles the domestic scene in his studio, drawing from a repertory of standard objects and utensils that he was to constantly reproduce elsewhere in various combinations. Again like Aertsen, he has borrowed from Serlio's treatise the Renaissance architecture in which he places his composition.Multiplying the different levels of interpretation, the image moves beyond a simple illustration of the Gospel story to become a philosophical exegesis of visible reality. Invested with moral and symbolic content, each object reminds man of his carnal nature and warns him against the dangers of voluptuousness.
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