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Guercino, The Incredulity of Saint Thomas

Key facts
Full title The Incredulity of Saint Thomas
Artist Guercino
Artist dates 1591 - 1666
Date made 1621
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 115.6 × 142.5 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1917
Inventory number NG3216
Location Room 32
Collection Main Collection
The Incredulity of Saint Thomas

The New Testament recounts how, after his crucifixion, Christ rose from the dead and appeared to his disciples. One of them, Thomas, was absent, and refused to believe in Christ’s resurrection without witnessing it himself. This painting shows their encounter, when Christ instructed Thomas to touch the wounds he had suffered on the Cross.

Fingers outstretched, Thomas tentatively reaches towards Christ, clutching his other hand to his chest; we can sense his nervousness. Two men lean in behind him, craning their necks to see, while Saint Peter looks on over Christ’s shoulder. Guercino has built a powerful sense of anticipation and tension through the picture’s tight crop and dramatic lighting. The figures, transfixed by Christ, watch and wait to see what will happen.

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