In order to tempt Christ, the learned men and Pharisees brought an adulteress to Him, demanding that she be stoned according to the Law of Moses (Deut. 22:22). Jesus initially avoided them, writing with his finger on the ground. Then he answered: “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” Then they went out one by one, and left him alone with the woman (John 7:53–8:11). In his depiction of the scene, Luca Giordano concentrates on Christ’s decision, the outstretched arm perhaps referring to both the process of writing as well as the casting of the stone. The architectural ruins in the background are a reference to the ancient temple as a sign of the Old Covenant between God and His people, to whose laws Jesus is subject. However, the dawn heralds that Jesus has made a new decision in favor of brotherly love, although marriage vows were of particular importance in the New Covenant because they symbolized the relationship of Christ to the Church. Stylistically, the painting reveals an influence of the famous early Baroque painter Caravaggio and his successors in the close-up view of the figures and in the lighting that comes from an invisible source from the side, as well as in the dramatization evoked by means of stark contrasts of light and dark (chiaroscuro).


  • Title: Christ and the Adulteress
  • Creator: Luca Giordano
  • Date Created: c. 1658/59
  • Physical Dimensions: 176.0 x 255.5 cm
  • Type: painting
  • Rights: Kunsthalle Bremen - Der Kunstverein in Bremen
  • Medium: Oil on canvas

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