Pietro Perugino 1450 – 1523

Jesus Handing the Keys to Peter

fresco (335 × 550 cm) — 1481-82 Museum Sistine Chapel, Vatican City

This work is linked to Matthew 16:19

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The fresco shows an important moment in the history of the catholic church. It is no coincidence that it is in the Sistine Chapel, the pope's personal chapel. Jesus hands the keys of the kingdom of heaven to Peter. In the previous verse Peter was called the rock upon which Jesus would build his church.

Artists interpreted Jesus' words literally: Peter is very often displayed carrying the keys.

The other followers watch on. They are joined by a few non-biblical figures. Among the men on the right it is thought that Perugino himself can be found alongside the architect of the Sistine Chapel.

In the background two other scenes from the life of Jesus are shown. To the left: the Rendering of the Tribute Money (ref. Masaccio); to the right: the stoning of Jesus.

Perugino shows the scenes in the best tradition of the Renaissance. The composition is almost perfectly symmetric, with skillfully applied perspective.

The temple in Renaissance style is Solomon's temple in Jerusalem. That is a geographic anomaly, as according to Matthew the event took place in the city of Caesarea Filippi near one of the sources of the river Jordan.

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