Christ and the Samaritan Woman
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Alessandro Magnasco
Italian, Genoa, about 1705 - 1710
Oil on canvas
57 x 43 in.

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When Christ paused to rest at Jacob's Well, a holy site for both Samaritans and Jews, he requested a drink of water from a Samaritan woman. Though initially surprised, since Jews and Samaritans were traditional enemies, she became increasingly intrigued by the knowledgeable and all-seeing visitor as they talked. Believing him to be a prophet, she spoke of looking forward to the coming of the Messiah. "I am he, the one who is speaking to you," Jesus replied.

Against the sober classical ruins, Alessandro Magnasco gave the scene an expressive urgency with his characteristically agitated drapery and rapidly sketched, attenuated musculature. Magnasco took the subjects of both this painting and its pendant, Noli Me Tangere, from the New Testament gospel of John. A collaborator probably painted the background of antique ruins in both pictures.