The J. Paul Getty Museum

Samson with the Jawbone

Object Details


Samson with the Jawbone


Salomon de Bray (Dutch, 1597 - 1664)






Oil on canvas

Object Number:



64.1 × 52.4 cm (25 1/4 × 20 5/8 in.)

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Object Description

Holding the jawbone as his attribute, Samson looks upward, perhaps to God. The great strongman slew a thousand Philistines with the jawbone of an ass (Judges 15:19). Overcome by thirst, he then drank from the rock at Lechi, a name that also means "jawbone" in Hebrew. Due to a mistaken translation in the Dutch Bible, some artists depicted Samson with a jawbone, rather than the rock, issuing water.

Salomon de Bray used a clear light, plain background, and a half-length composition, showing his awareness of the artistic conventions of the Utrecht Caravaggisti.

Samson with the Jawbone shares the same size, medium, and composition with David with His Sword; they were probably intended as pendants or companions in a series of Old Testament heroes.

by 1960s -

Private Collection (England), sold to Di Castro & Figlio.

- 1969

Di Castro & Figlio (Rome, Italy), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1969.

Baroque Masters from the J. Paul Getty Museum (February 26 to March 30, 1973)
  • California State University (Northridge), February 26 to March 30, 1973
The Bible through Dutch Eyes: From Genesis through the Apocrypha (April 9 to May 23, 1976)
  • Milwaukee Art Museum (Milwaukee), April 9 to May 23, 1976
Haarlem: The Seventeenth Century (February 20 to April 17, 1983)
  • Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers University (New Brunswick), February 20 to April 17, 1983

Fredericksen, Burton B. Catalogue of the Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1972), p. 80, no. 101.

Baroque Masters from the J. Paul Getty Museum, exh. cat. (Northridge: California State University, 1973), p. 3, no. 5.

Bader, Alfred. The Bible through Dutch Eyes: From Genesis through the Apocrypha, exh. cat. (Milwaukee: Milwaukee Art Center, 1976), pp. 84-85, no. 37, ill.

Thiel, P. J. J. van. "De betekenis van het portret van Verdonck door Frans Hals: De ikonografie van het kakebeen." Oud Holland 94 (1980), p. 123-26, fig. 14.

Hofrichter, Frima Fox. Haarlem: The Seventeenth Century, exh. cat. (New Brunswick: Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers, State University of New Jersey, 1983), p. 65, no. 17, ill.

Moiso-Diekamp, Cornelia. Das Pendant in der holländischen Malerei des 17. Jahrhunderts (Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 1987), pp. 84, 315, no. S. de Bray B1.

Dirkse, Paul P. W. M., et al. Vermaakt aan de staat: Het legaat Thurkow-van Huffel, exh. cat. (Utrecht: Rijksmuseum Het Catharijneconvent, 1988), p. 13.

Schillemans, Robert. Bijbelschilderkunst rond Rembrandt (Utrecht: Kwadraat, 1989), p. 38.

Slive, Seymour, ed. Frans Hals, exh. cat. (Munich: Prestel, 1989), pp. 200, 201n1.

Gent, Judith van, and Gabriël M. C. Pastoor. "Die Zeit der Richter." In Im Lichte Rembrandts: Das Alte Testament im Goldenen Zeitalter der niederländischen Kunst, exh. cat. Christian Tümpel, ed. (Zwolle: Waanders Verlag, 1994), p. 85n5.

"Bray, Salomon." In Allgemeines Künstler-Lexikon (Munich: K. G. Saur, 1996) band 14, vol. 14, p. 32.

Jaffé, David. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 16, ill.

Biesboer, Pieter, ed. Painting Family: The De Brays; Master Painters of 17th Century Holland, exh. cat. (Haarlem: Frans Halsmuseum, with Waanders, 2008), p. 138n1, 138n2, under no. 2.