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Bernardo Cavallino, Christ driving the Traders from the Temple

Key facts
Full title Christ driving the Traders from the Temple
Artist Bernardo Cavallino
Artist dates 1616 - 1656?
Date made about 1645-50
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 101 × 127.6 cm
Acquisition credit Presented by Count Alessandro Contini-Bonacossi, 1935
Inventory number NG4778
Location Room 32
Collection Main Collection
Christ driving the Traders from the Temple
Bernardo Cavallino

Angry to find that the Temple of Jerusalem was like a market because of the money-changers and dove-sellers trading, Christ drove them out using a whip. Here he is poised in the centre, right arm raised above his head, about to strike a money-changer who has fallen on one knee. His table has tipped over, scattering the tools of its owner’s profession: coins spill out of a blue bag, and an inkpot, quill pen and papers have been knocked to the ground. Sometimes called the Purification of the Temple, this subject took on great significance in the sixteenth century, when the Catholic Church initiated a series of self-imposed reforms in response to the Protestant Reformation.

The drama and subtle colouring of the painting are typical of Bernardino Cavallino, the most individual and poetic painter active in Naples in the first half of the seventeenth century.

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