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Landscape with St Philip baptising the Eunuch
CLAUDE Gellée, Le Lorrain (1600 - 1682)
Media: oil on canvas
Size: 88.0 x 142.2 cm
Acquired: 1982; Purchase; with assistance of the Art Fund
Accession Number: NMW A 4
This picture shows an evening landscape with the apostle Philip baptizing the Ethiopian eunuch. Returning in his carriage from Jerusalem to Ethiopia, a court Eunuch met the apostle Philip, who convinced him that the Old Testament prophecies of Isaiah had been fulfilled by the life and death of Christ (Acts of the Apostles VII 26-38). The picture and its companion piece Christ appearing to Mary Magdalene on Easter Morning (in Frankfurt) were painted for Cardinal Fabrizio Spada in 1678. St Philip's missionary role paralleled the cardinal's efforts to combat Protestantism. Both pictures depict contrasting times of the day: here early evening, in the other early morning. Although this painting has a story as a subject, it is the landscape that dominates this composition. Claude settled in Rome where he perfected an idealized style of landscape painting in which nature is carefully ordered. Claude’s pictures were especially popular in eighteenth-century Britain. He was admired by the great Welsh landscape painter Richard Wilson.