Christ Cleansing the Temple

Object Details


Christ Cleansing the Temple


Bernardino Mei (Italian (Sienese), about 1605 - 1676)




about 1655


Oil on canvas


104.1 × 141 cm (41 × 55 1/2 in.)

See more

See less

Upon seeing the Temple of Jerusalem turned into a marketplace by moneychangers and traders in sacrificial animals, the whip-carrying Jesus bursts out in anger. With an animated composition laid out on diagonals, and monumental figures reeling, Bernardino Mei's canvas aptly portrays Christ's righteous fury.

Mei borrowed the half-length figures and their unique, unidealized faces from Caravaggio's naturalistic followers. From the Baroque whirls of Gian Lorenzo Bernini's sculpture, he took the multiple twisting movements, then added a silvery light to harmonize the colors.

Baroque artists often painted this subject because of its tumultuous action and intense emotion. Italians of the 1600s tended to interpret the theme as symbolic of the contemporary reform of the Catholic Church.

- 1876

Augustus Arthur Vansittart, 1824 - 1882 (Bisham Abbey, Berkshire, England), by gift to the Fitzwilliam Museum.

1876 - 1955

The Fitzwilliam Museum [sold, Fitzwilliam sale, Sotheby's, London, May 11, 1955, lot 45, to Dent.]

1955 -


- 1969

Marcello Guidi (Florence, Italy), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1969.

Baroque Masters from the J. Paul Getty Museum (February 26 to March 30, 1973) (Cat. 27)
  • California State University (Northridge), February 26 to March 30, 1973