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Barent Fabritius

Saint Matthew and the Angel


Barent Fabritius
Middenbeemster, Netherlands, 1624 – Amsterdam 1673


Saint Matthew and the Angel




Oil on canvas


76.9 x 63.9 cm


Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Michal Hornstein in honour of Frederik J. Duparc, inv. 1990.13


Western Art

Barent Fabritius painted portraits, genre scenes, and history and religious subjects. He was probably first trained by his brother, Carel, a student of Rembrandt. Rembrandt’s direct influence on Barent can be traced to the 1640s, when the young artist lived in Amsterdam. This intimate depiction of Saint Matthew writing under the guidance of an angel focuses on the Evangelist deep in concentration as he pauses to ponder the interpretation of the divinely inspired words dictated to him by the angel before committing them to paper. The painting may originally have been part of a cycle of half-length depictions of the four Evangelists. It also falls within the tradition of half-length character studies, so-called tronies, that were a specialty of other contemporary artists, including Rembrandt. The vibrant colouristic highlights, notably red and black, are characteristic of Fabritius’ mature paintings, in which he looked to the palette of Rembrandt’s pupil Nicolaes Maes.

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