Skip to main content
Christ before the High Priest
Gerrit van Honthorst
/

This large, atmospheric painting most likely depicts a moment from Christ’s trial before the Sanhedrin (a Jewish judicial body). The composition is symmetrically balanced around the lit candle on the central table: the shimmering flame illuminates the faces of Christ and the man sat facing him, probably the priest Caiaphas, but not much else. The picture hints at why, when he worked in Rome between 1610 and 1620, Honthorst’s nickname was Gherardo della Notte (Gherardo of the night).

Although it is shaped like an altarpiece, the picture was likely painted to be housed in the palace of Marchese Vincenzo Giustianiani, Gerrit van Honthorst’s important patron. Giustiniani owned another picture of the same subject painted after 1570 by the Genoese master Luca Cambiaso. Van Honthorst absorbed the styles of the Italian masters during his ten years in Rome, and painters such as Cambiaso and Caravaggio became a stylistic source, resulting in sparsely lit compositions devoid of unnecessary details.

Key facts
Artist Gerrit van Honthorst
Artist dates 1592 - 1656
Full title Christ before the High Priest
Date made about 1617
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 272 x 183 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1922
Inventory number NG3679
Location in Gallery Room 24
Download image
Download low-resolution image

Download an 800px wide, 72dpi copy of this image.

License this image

License and download a high resolution image for reproductions up to A3 size from the National Gallery Picture Library.

License image
Download low resolution image

This image is licensed for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons agreement.

Examples of non-commercial use are:

  • Research, private study, or for internal circulation within an educational organisation (such as a school, college or university)
  • Non-profit publications, personal websites, blogs, and social media

The image file is 800 pixels on the longest side.

As a charity, we depend upon the generosity of individuals to ensure the collection continues to engage and inspire. Help keep us free by making a donation today.

Yes, I'd like to donate
Or
Download low resolution image

You must agree to the Creative Commons terms and conditions to download this image.

Creative Commons Logo