Christ Cleansing the Temple

Object Details

Title:

Christ Cleansing the Temple

Artist/Maker(s):

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

Culture:

Italian

Date:

about 1655

Medium:

Oil on canvas

Dimensions:

104.1 x 141 cm (41 x 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.

Provenance
- 1876

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

1876 - 1955

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

1955 -

Dent

- 1969

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

Exhibitions
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
Bibliography

Colvin, Sidney, ed. A Brief Catalogue of the Pictures in the Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge: University Press, 1898), p. 28. no. 139 (as imitation of Guercino).

Earp, F. R. A Descriptive Catalogue of the Pictures in the Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge: University Press, 1902), p. 13, no. 139 (as imitation of Guercino).

Sotheby's, London. Catalogue of Old Master Drawings and Paintings [...]. May 11, 1955, p. 8, lot 45 (as Guercino).

"Recent Accessions of American and Canadian Museums, April-June 1971." The Art Quarterly 34, no. 4 (1971), pp. 498, 503, ill. (as Antonio Molinari).

Fredericksen, Burton B. Catalogue of the Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1972), p. 55, no. 62, ill. (as attributed to Antonio Molinari).

Baroque Masters from the J. Paul Getty Museum, exh. cat. (Northridge: California State University, 1973), p. 21, no. 27 (as attributed to Antonio Molinari).

Riedl, Peter Anselm, and Max Seidel, eds. Die Kirchen von Siena. Vol. 1.1, Abbadia all'Arco-S. Biagio (Munich: Bruckmann, 1985), p. 119, under no. 64, entry by Alessandro Bagnoli (as Bernardino Mei).

Anderson, Jaynie. "Bernardino Mei." In Baroque III, 1620-1700, exh. cat. (London: Matthiesen Fine Art Ltd., 1986), p. 128.

Bisogni, Fabio. "Bernardino Mei." In Bernardino Mei e la pittura barocca a Siena, exh. cat. Fabio Bisogni and Marco Ciampolini, eds. (Siena: Palazzo Chigi Saracini, 1987), pp. 163-64, 166, fig. 80.

Bisogni, Fabio. "Introduzione." In Bernardino Mei e la pittura barocca a Siena, exh. cat. Fabio Bisogni and Marco Ciampolini, eds. (Siena: Palazzo Chigi Saracini, 1987), p. 25.

Bagnoli, Alessandro. "La pittura del Seicento a Siena." In La pittura in Italia: il Seicento. 2 vols. Mina Gregori and Erich Schleier, eds. (Milan: Electa, 1988), vol. 1, p. 348.

DeGrazia, Diane, and Pier Giovanni Castagnoli, eds. Selected Baroque Paintings from Italian Banks, exh. cat. Robert Erich Wolf, trans. (Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, 1990), p. 80, entry by Alessandro Bagnoli.

Jaffé, David. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 84, ill.

Ciampolini, Marco. Drawing in Renaissance and Baroque Siena: 16th- and 17th-Century Drawings from Sienese Collections, exh. cat. Hugh Ward-Perkins, trans. (Athens, GA: Georgia Museum of Art, 2002), pp. 221, 223, under no. 46, fig. 1.