The Death of Samson

Object Details


The Death of Samson


Unknown maker, Italian, probably Genoese School




about 1650


Oil on canvas (unlined)


102.9 x 115.6 cm (40 1/2 x 45 1/2 in.)

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Blinded and shackled to the columns of the Philistines' temple for public display and ridicule, the Israelite warrior Samson avenged himself by bringing the building down around him. His previously shorn hair, the source of his extraordinary strength, had grown back, returning his power and allowing him to kill more Philistines in death than during his lifetime.

This complex, carefully orchestrated yet apparently chaotic, painting was intended to be seen from far below and may even have been a ceiling painting. The artist based the figure of Samson and the tumbling Philistines on ancient sculpture.

possibly 17th century -

Corsini Family (Florence, Italy)

- 1992

Private Collection (Switzerland), sold through Mario Modestini (New York, New York) to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1992.


Medici, Ulderigo. Catalogo della Galleria dei Principi Corsini in Firenze (Florence: 1880), p. 91, no. 322.

Bodart, Didier. "Pierre-Paul Rubens et la 'Vengeance de Samcon': son oeuvre charnière inédite de la périod italienne," Artibus et historiae, no. 26 (1992), pp. 15-30.

Jaffé, Michael. "Samson destroying the Temple of Dagon: A rediscovered Rubens," Apollo, 138, no. 382 (December 1993), pp. 377-82.

Jaffé, David. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 112, ill.

Jaffé, Michael. The Devonshire Collection of Northern European Drawings (Turin: Umberto Allemandi, 2002), 134, ill.

Cutrone, Cinzia. "Le Acquisitioni delle opere di pittura Europea del J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA US." B.A. thesis (Università degli Studi Roma Tre, 2003), pp. 76-77, 145-53, ill.