The J. Paul Getty Museum

The Liberation of Saint Peter

Object Details


The Liberation of Saint Peter


Laurent de La Hyre (French, 1606 - 1656)




about 1647


Black chalk and brown wash

Object Number:



23.8 × 19.7 cm (9 3/8 × 7 3/4 in.)

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Object Description

In this simple yet dramatic composition, an angel leads Saint Peter past the sleeping guards, releasing him from King Herod's imprisonment on the night before his trial. Early Christians traditionally regarded the episode as symbolic of the coming deliverance of the Church from persecution.

With its elegantly posed figures, carefully drawn drapery, and delicate combination of black chalk and brown wash, this scene epitomizes Laurent de la Hyre's refined, distinctive draftsmanship. Powerful lines representing supernatural light emanate from the angel and focus the viewer's eye on the two protagonists. Silhouetted against this brilliant light, Saint Peter's strong form resembles a three-dimensional statue. The bodies of the sleeping soldiers anchor the scene at the bottom, echoing the heavy, intersecting beams in the upper right.


Sir Anthony Frederick Blunt, British, 1907 - 1983

April 18, 1989

Art Market (London)

The Sir Anthony Blunt Collection (1964)
  • Courtauld Institute of Art Gallery (London), 1964
Laurent de La Hyre, 1606-1656: L'homme et l'oeuvre (January 14, 1989 to January 6, 1990) (Catalogue by P. Rosenberg and J. Thuillier)
  • Musée de Grenoble, January 14 to April 10, 1989
  • Musée de Rennes, May 9 to August 31, 1989
  • Musée de Bordeaux, October 6, 1989 to January 6, 1990
Figural Compositional Drawings from the 16th to the 19th Century (August 31 to December 8, 1996)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), August 31 to December 8, 1996
Raphael and his Influence Across the Centuries (October 31, 2000 to January 7, 2001)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), October 31, 2000 to January 7, 2001