Christ Before the High Priest

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Matthias Stom[er] (Dutch, ca. 1600–after 1652)
Christ Before the High Priest, ca. 1633
Oil on canvas
56 × 72 3/4 in. (142.24 × 184.79 cm)
Purchase, Friends of Art, Myron and Elizabeth P. Laskin Fund, and Marjorie Tiefenthaler Bequest M2000.6
Photo credit: Larry Sanders
Currently on View

During the early 17th century, a number of Northern European artists were influenced by the innovative realism of the Italian proto-Baroque painter Caravaggio. Among these Caravaggesque painters was the Dutch artist Matthias Stom, who worked briefly in Rome and then in Naples. Dramatically lit night-time scenes such as this depiction of Caiaphas accusing Christ of blasphemy became Stom’s specialty. The beautifully staged confrontation contrasts the theatrically gesturing priest with a serene Christ bathed in light and seeming to be an altogether different order of being from the coarse false witnesses behind him. Positioning the three-quarter-length figures close to the picture plane creates a composition that engages the viewer with its immediacy and emphasizes the powerful moment in which Christ refuses to deny that he is the Son of God. The painting may have formed part of the Passion series for the Capuchin Church of St. Efremo in Naples.

Publication History
Andera, Margaret, Nonie Gadsden, Britt Salvesen, and Laurie Winters. Collection Guide: Milwaukee Art Museum. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Milwaukee Art Museum, 2004, pp. 14 and 67, cat. 12, color illus. p. 14.

Milwaukee Art Museum. Building a Masterpiece: Milwaukee Art Museum. New York: Hudson Hill Press, 2001, p. 69, color illus. p. 68.

Museum Acquisitions, Apollo (December 2000): 32, illus.

Auer, James. Art Museum snags Stom piece. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Ocober 7, 2000, p. 6B, b/w illus.

Slatkes, Leonard J. Review: Matthias Stom, Birmingham. The Burlington Magazine 142, no. 1164 (March 2000): 183.

Fischbacher, Franziska. Matthias Stomer: Die Sizilianischen Nachtstücke. European University Studies History of Art. XXVIII. Frankfurt am Main and New York: P. Lang, 1993, p. 5.

Maclaren, Neil and Christopher Brown. The Dutch School. London: National Gallery, 1991, p. 191.

Nicolson, Benedict. Caravaggism in Europe. Vol. 1 and 2. Torino: U. Allemandi, 1990, pp. 183 and 231.

Judson, J. Richard. A New Artist for the Ackland, Ackland Art Museum Annual Report 1987–1988, Chapel Hill, North Carolina: Ackland Art Museum, 1988, pp. 4–5 and 6. (erroniously considers the Ackland painting to be identical with that published by Nicolson in 1974, 1979, and 1990, which is Milwaukee painting)

Laskin, Myron and Michael Pantazzi. European and American Painting, Sculpture, and Decorative Arts. Vol. 1. Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada, 1987, p. 275.

Nicolson, Benedict. The International Caravaggesque Movement. Oxford: Phaidon, 1979, p. 94.

Schleier, E. Catalogue of Paintings 13th–18th Century, Staatliche Museen Preußiscjer Kulturbesitz Berlin. 2nd edition. Berlin: Staatliche Museen Preußiscjer Kulturbesitz, 1978, p. 422.

Nicolson, Benedict. Stomer Brought Up-to-Date, The Burlington Magazine CXIX (April 1977): 239, note 40 and p. 241, no. 11 (under section B. Rome, ca. 1630-32)

Nicolson, Benedict. Caravaggio and the Caravaggesques: Some Recent Research, The Burlington Magazine (October 1974): 615, fig. 77. (as Christ before the High Priest attributed to Matthis Stomer)

Oertel, Robert and Erich Schleier. Neuerwerbungen, Gemäldegalerie Berlin. Berlin: Staatliche Museen Preussishcer Kulturbesitz, 1971, p. 11.

Spear, Richard E. Caravaggio and His Followers. New York: Harper & Row, 1971, p. 168.

David Koetser Gallery. Exhibition of Old Master Paintings from the David M Koetser Gallery, Zurich. London: David Koetser Gallery, 1969, no. 26.

MacLaren, Neil. The Dutch School. London: National Gallery, 1960, p. 181. (under Honthorst, Christ before the High Priest; refers to drawing at British Museum T.4.-45)

Judson, J. Richard. Gerrit van Honthorst. The Hague: Nijhoff, 1959, p. 165. (as copy of Gerard van Honthorst's Christ before the High Priest in National Gallery, London)

[possibly] Pauwels, H. De Schilder Matthias Stomer, Gentsche bijdragen tot de kunstgeschiedenis XIV (1953): 162.

Isarlo, George, Caravage et le Caravaggisme européen. Aix-en-Provence: Dragon, 1941, p. 155. (as Gerard van Honthorst)

Sotheby and Co. Catalogue of the celebrated collection of pictures by old Masters from Marbury Hall, Northwich, Cheshire, June 21, 1933. London: Sotheby and Col, 1933, lot 20. (as Christ before Pilate by candlelight attributed to Gerard van Honthorst)

Graves, Algernon. Summary of and index to Waagen. London: A. Graves, 1912, p. 95. (under Honthorst, Gerard)

[possibly] Voss. H. Kritische Bemerkungen zu Scientisten in den Römischen Galerien, Repertoire für Kunstwissenschaft, 1910, p. 212ff. (cites Napoli Nobilissima XI (1902): 159)

Catalogue of Paintings: The Property of Lord Barrymore at Marbury Hall, Chesire, and 20 Hill Street. National Gallery Library, London: NC 340 Barrymore-2 1910 and annotated copy by Sir Ellis K. Waterhouse, National Gallery Library, London: Box A XI 6 1. 1910, p. 18. (paintings found under marbury Hall Oil Paintings, Passage to West Wing as D. [G. Houthrost] Christ boefre Pilate [No.] 214; in his annotations focused on attributions, Waterhouse made no comments about painting nor the three others attributed to Honthorst)

Würtzbach, A. Niederländisches künstler-lexikon. Vol. 1. Vienna: Halm und Goldmann, 1906, p. 711, Internet Archive, (accessed March 27, 2015). (under Gerard van Honthorst as Christus vor Pilatus in Collection of Mr. Barry, England)

[possibly] Ferrante, Don. La Quaderia dei rincipi di Avellino, Napoli Nobilissima XI (1902): 159. (publication of an inventory of Carraciolo Collection from 1801; reference to painting may be Un quadro di p. 4 x 5: N. S. avanti a Caifas di Stemen)

Waagen, Gustav Friedrich and Lady Elizabeth Eastlake. Treasures of Art in Great Britain: Being an Account of the Chief Collections of Paintings, Drawings, Sculptures, Illuminated Mss., &c, &c. Vol. IV (Supplement). London: J. Murray, 1857, p. 413, Internet Archive, (accessed March 26, 2015). (Christ before Pilate by Candlelight by Gerard Honthorst)

Neale, John Preston. Views of the Seats of Noblemen and Gentlemen, in England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. 2nd Edition. Vol. 5. London: Sherwood, Jones, and Co., 1829, no. 156. (Christ before the chief Priest by G. Della Notte [Gerrit van Honthorst])

Barry, John Smith. A Catalogue of Paintings, Statues, Busts, &c. at Marbury Hall. Arrington: J. and J. Haddock, 1819, p. 7, no. 156, Hathi Trust Digital Library, (accessed March 26, 2015). (Christ before the chief Priest by G. Della Notte [Gerrit van Honthorst])

Barry, John Smith. A Catalogue of Paintings, Statues, Busts, &c. at Marbury Hall. Arrington: J. and J. Haddock, 1814, p. 7, no. 156. (Christ before the chief Priest by G. Della Notte [Gerrit van Honthorst])

[possibly] De Dominici, B. Vite de' pittori, scultori, ed architetti napoletani. Vol. 3. Naples: Ricciardi, 1743, p. 155, Internet Archive,
age/154/mode/2up (accessed March 27, 2015). (reference to paintings in church of S. Efremo)

[possibly] Celano, Carlo. Delle Notizie Del Bello, Dell'Antico, E Del Curioso Della cittá di Napoli per i Signori Forastieri Giornata. Vol. 7. Naples: Salvatore Palermo, 1692, p. 29. Reprint from 1792, Hathi Trust Digital Library, accessed March 26, 2015). (description of Stom [Matteo Tomar Fiamingo] paintings in Capuchin Church of S. Efremo, Naples)

This information is subject to change as the result of ongoing research.