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Annibale Carracci, Christ appearing to Saint Peter on the Appian Way

Key facts
Full title Christ appearing to Saint Peter on the Appian Way (Domine, Quo Vadis?)
Artist Annibale Carracci
Artist dates 1560 - 1609
Date made 1601-2
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 77.4 × 56.3 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1826
Inventory number NG9
Location Room 37
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Christ appearing to Saint Peter on the Appian Way
Annibale Carracci

Saint Peter fled Rome after Christ’s crucifixion, scared that he too would be executed by the Romans; here, he stands in shock as Christ passes him on the road. When Peter asked Christ where he was going – the question in this painting’s title – he replied that he was headed to Rome to be crucified again. Shamed, Peter turned back to face his own martyrdom. The incident is described in the Golden Legend, a thirteenth-century compilation of the lives of the saints.

This private devotional painting was almost certainly commissioned from Annibale Carracci by Cardinal Pietro Aldobrandini, whose name-saint was Peter. In spite of the panel’s relatively small dimensions, its effect is highly monumental and the picture is characteristic of Carracci’s late, classical style.

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