The J. Paul Getty Museum

The Penitent St. Peter

Object Details


The Penitent St. Peter


Christoph Daniel Schenck (German, 1633 - 1691)







Object Number:



36.6 × 26.2 cm (14 7/16 × 10 5/16 in.)

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Object Description

With remorse and anguish because he has just betrayed Jesus, the apostle Peter clasps his hands and closes his eyes, clearly in torment. His deeply carved facial features and furrowed brow express his spiritual pain, as do the sway of his body and the turbulent, swirling drapery. Behind this dominating figure, sculptor Christoph Daniel Schenck included background scenes. On the left through a window, Roman soldiers torment Jesus, while on the lower right, amplifying the context of Peter's guilt, Peter denies knowing Jesus in the midst of a group of soldiers. Above, a cock stands on a ledge, referring to Jesus' prophecy that Peter would deny him three times before the cock crowed. By carving these background scenes in low relief and in smaller scale, the artist focused attention on Peter as a penitent in a moment of confession and internal transformation. The panel depicting spiritual change and its pair, the Conversion of Saint Paul, probably served as devotional objects for a private Kunstkammer or collector's cabinet or perhaps in a monastery.

The heightened emotionalism of the pieces is characteristic of German Baroque sculpture. Limewood was a popular material because its relative softness and uniformity allowed the sculptor great freedom of expression in carving.

by 1856 - 1907

Friedrich I. Grossherzog von Baden, Herzog von Zaehringen, German, 1826 - 1907 (Grossherzogliche Kunsthalle, Karlsruhe)

1928 - 1929

Max Prinz von Baden, German, 1867 - 1929

1963 - 1995

Max Markgraf von Baden, Herzog von Zaehringen, German, 1906 - 1963 [sold, Sotheby's, Baden-Baden, Germany, October 5, 1995, lot 439, to Same Art Ltd.]

1995 - 1996

Same Art Ltd., sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1996.


Lohse,Brigitte. "Nachträge zum Werk von Christoph Daniel Schenck." Das Münster 21 (1968), pp. 123-25, fig. 11.

Fischer, Fritz, et al. Christoph Daniel Schenck, 1633-1691, exh. cat. (Konstanz: Rosgartenmuseum, with Jan Thorbecke Verlag, 1996), pp. 163-64, no. 36, fig. 36a, pl. 12, entry by Fritz Fischer.

Gribbon, Deborah. "Selected Acquisitions Made by the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1995-97." Burlington Magazine 139, no. 1136 (November 1997), p. 823, no. 6.

Fusco, Peter. Summary Catalogue of European Sculpture in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 47, ill.

Fusco, Peter, Peggy Anne Fogelman, and Marietta Cambareri. Masterpieces of the J. Paul Getty Museum: European Sculpture (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1998), pp. 74-75, no. 24, ill., entry by Marietta Cambareri.

Fischer, Fritz. "Zwei Hauptwerke von Christoph Daniel Schenk im J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu." In Skulptur in Süddeutschland 1400-1770: Festschrift für Alfred Schädler. Rainer Kahsnitz and Peter Volk, eds. (Munich: Deutscher Kunstverlag, 1998), pp. 273-80, fig. 2.