Pieter Aertsen 1507/08 – 1575

Christ in the House of Martha and Mary (Vienna)

oil on panel (61 × 101 cm) — 1552 Museum Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Pieter Aertsen biography

This work is linked to Luke 10:40

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An odd painting: at first glance it seems an ordinary kitchen still life, but there's an actual scene going on in the background.

The money purse on the door of the cupboard hints that the painting is about vanity. Vanitas is an alternate name of the painting. On the mantelpiece is a text in Dutch quoting Luke 10:42: "Mary hath chosen that good part". It's Christ's reply when Martha complains that Mary doesn't help her in the kitchen.

On one of the tiles in the bottom left it reads "Luk:10".

Pieter Aertsen made several other still lifes that also included a biblical scene. This one is not his best: it is dominated by the huge ham.

One year on Aertsen would make another painting showing the story of Martha and Mary.

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