Abraham Bloemaert 1566 – 1651

The Four Evangelists

oil on canvas (178 × 222 cm) — c. 1612 Museum Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, NJ

Abraham Bloemaert biography

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Each gospel author can be identified by an attribute. The attributes were derived from the opening verses of the gospels. From left to right: Luke (bull), Mark (lion under the table), John (eagle), and Matthew (angel). Next to Luke's feet is a painter's palette: Luke was the patron of painters.

This scene does not occur in the Bible. It is sometimes called the Sacra Conversazione: sacred conversation.

This is a nice composition by Bloemaert. The lack of depth makes the two figures in the back come to the foreground. It is rich in colour, perhaps to emphasize the different identities of the evangelists. And even though writing is not the most dynamic of actions, this painting suggests much movement.

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