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Herman Saftleven, Christ Teaching from Saint Peter's Boat

Key facts
Full title Christ teaching from Saint Peter's Boat on the Lake of Gennesaret
Artist Herman Saftleven
Artist dates 1609 - 1685
Date made 1667
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 46.7 × 62.8 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated and inscribed
Acquisition credit Presented by Charles Locke Eastlake, 1906
Inventory number NG2062
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Christ Teaching from Saint Peter's Boat
Herman Saftleven

A dramatic landscape unfolds in this small picture. Although the painting has a biblical subject, it is the mountains and sky that demand our attention. Towering clouds open up to reveal a radiant sun, and pine trees grow on the steep cliffs, framing an expanse of water and sky. The people depicted are dwarfed by nature.

Herman Saftleven specialised in landscape paintings, some of which had a mythological or religious subject; this one shows an important episode from the Gospel of Luke. Christ, dressed in blue, is sitting on the larger of the boats moored by the water’s edge. He preaches to the crowds that have gathered, raising his right arm upwards. After his address, Christ instructed the fisherman Simon (afterwards known as Peter) to lower his nets, even though they had caught nothing for hours. The nets came up full of fish. Simon Peter, together with his fellow fishermen James and John and his brother Andrew, decided to follow Christ, becoming his apostles.

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