The Denial of Saint Peter

Object Details

Title:

The Denial of Saint Peter

Artist/Maker(s):

Simon Bening (Flemish, about 1483 - 1561)

Culture:

Flemish

Place(s):

Bruges, Belgium (Place created)

Date:

about 1525 - 1530

Medium:

Tempera colors, gold paint, and gold leaf on parchment

Dimensions:

Leaf: 16.8 x 11.4 cm (6 5/8 x 4 1/2 in.)

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Intense drama marks Simon Bening's cycle of forty-one miniatures of Jesus' life and Passion in the prayer book of Cardinal Albrecht of Brandenburg. The Denial of Peter, set in an eerily lit hall, captures the climactic moment retold in the Gospel of Matthew, when Peter utters a third denial of his acquaintance with Jesus to a servant girl. She points to the right, where Jesus is being led away through the doorway. Shown on the left, Peter's expression reveals the depth of his agony as he realizes that Jesus' prophecy that he would deny Jesus "before the cock crows" has come true. The cock, with open beak, stands in the cupboard on the right.

The intense glow of the fire in the center of the hall casts a naturalistic but also dramatic light on the scene, silhouetting a soldier standing between the viewer and the fire. The artist included other naturalistic details as well: the figure on the right, for example, who yawns sleepily to indicate the late hour. Such prosaic details draw viewers into the story, encouraging them to feel as if they are a part of the scene.

Related Works
Exhibitions
Flemish Manuscript Illumination: 1450 - 1550 (April 16 to June 30, 1985)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), April 16 to June 30, 1985
Illuminated Flemish Manuscripts of the Late Middle Ages (July 26 to October 16, 1988)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), July 26 to October 16, 1988
Flemish Illumination of the Late Middle Ages (November 3, 1998 to January 17, 1999)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), November 3, 1998 to January 17, 1999
Illuminating the Renaissance: The Triumph of Flemish Manuscript Painting in Europe (June 17, 2003 to February 22, 2004)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), June 17 to September 7, 2003
Radiant Darkness: The Art of Nocturnal Light (April 24 to July 22, 2007)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), April 24 to July 22, 2007
Related Media
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    Audio: Denial of Saint Peter