The baptism of the Moorish chamberlain
Object number

oil on canvas

203 cm x 111 cm

Gillis Claesz. D’Hondecoeter was the father of Gysbert and the grandfather of Melchior d’Hondecoeter. He was the student of Gillis van Coninxloo (1544-1607). The tableau plays out in a forested landscape in the tradition of Gillis van Coninxloo. Along with other Flemish painters, he introduced the tradition of the Flemish landscape painting with its special colouristic qualities of the northern Low Countries.
In the middle of the 16th Century, the landscape developed into an independent genre. The painting referred to here is a fine example of this. The landscape is used as a background and was conceived like a stage décor, by which the trees painted in the tableau serve as coulisses. The forest landscape is further filled in or ornamented with the story of the baptism of the Moorish chamberlain.
The subject is borrowed from the Acts of the Apostles (8: 26-40). At the command of an angel, the deacon Philippus set off on the way to Jerusalem to Gaza. There he meets the Moorish chamberlain who was on a return trip from a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. In his carriage, he read the book Isaiah, but did not understand the content. Philippus offers to explain the text for him. By means of the Old Testament, he confirms the teachings of Christ. Coming up a water source, the chamberlain asked to be baptised.

CC BY (Creative Commons 4.0)

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