The House of the Pharisee by Rubens

The House of the Pharisee by Rubens
The House of the Pharisee by Rubens
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This canvas painted in oil in 1629 by the Flemish artist Pieter Paulus Rubens is now part of the huge collection of painting baroque that treasures the Hermitage Museum of the Russian city of Saint Petersburg.

The painting can also be found under the title of The Pharisee's House or Feast at Simon's House,and both cases mention is made of a New Testament passage in which Jesus allows himself to be washed by Mary Magdalene. A fact that serves as an excuse to confront and oppose in a very dramatic way two attitudes in the different characters. On the one hand faith and on the other disbelief.

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The House of the Pharisee by Rubens

The fact that Jesus allows himself to have his feet cleaned by a recognized sinner like Mary Magdalene, and also forgives her sins, raises the indignation, almost the anger, of the Pharisees like Simon who have invited to a banquet Jesus and his Apostles. In fact, this attitude contrasts with that of Jesus Christ himself who forgives the Magdalene, while his followers contemplate the scene with calm and security.

That confrontation of attitudes, characters and gestures is what inspires the work, and it is underlined by the movement that is intrinsic in its composition, since it leads us to look from left to right, so that is how we arrive with the look up to the figure ofJesus. However, the center of the scene, the washing of the feet occupies the center of the painting, specifically its lower part, where the light clothes and the pink skin of María Magdalena generate an important focus of light.

Rubens was a painter who produced an immense production of paintings on various themes: portraits of important figures of his time, religious painting such as this canvas or his Descent from the Cross, mythological like his Perseus and Andromeda, genre scenes like The Dance of the Villagers, cabinet paintings like his series on the senses, etc…, a task that would have been completely impossible without having a large workshop of disciples and collaborators. Well, in this painting of the Banquet in the house of the Pharisee two of his most famous followers and disciples participated, since it is known that Anton Van Dyck himself would make the figure of Saint Peter, while the young woman seen at the top of the canvas would be painted by Jacob Jordaens.

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