Pieter Aertsen 1507/08 – 1575

Christ and the Adulteress

oil on panel (122 × 177 cm) — 1559 Museum Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main

Pieter Aertsen biography

This work is linked to John 8:9

Tags: Adulteress

Rate this work of art:

  [30 votes]

Pieter Aertsen put the story of the adulteress in the background of the painting. The attention is therefor drawn by the market scene in the foreground. Aertsen made similar compositions at other occasions, as in some of his depictions of Christ in the House of Martha and Mary.

The people at the market wear 16th century clothes. All sorts of goods are on sale: eggs, fruit, vegetables, poultry, bread and pottery. The birds may have a symbolic meaning, as the Dutch word for birding has a sexual connotation.

The group with Jesus wears cloths that people in the 16th century thought were common in Jesus' days. A woman who has been accused of adultery is brought before Jesus. When pushed by the priests, he replies with "he who is without sin, cast the first stone". The scribes and Pharisees then leave. The woman stays, and Jesus continues his teaching by writing in the sand.

Show page metadata