In this parable from the Gospel of Matthew, the devil, identified by his horns and tail, sows weeds (or tares) in the field where wheat has been planted, while the lazy peasants are sleeping. Christians considered sloth one of the Seven Deadly Sins to which mankind was subject as a result of the Original Sin of Adam and Eve, to whom the two naked sleepers allude. The dovecote (a birdhouse to attract doves or pigeons that can be trapped for food without the bother of raising them) was associated with the morally lazy who take the easy way. The goat, known for its lust, alludes to self-indulgence, and the peacock, to pride. Bloemaert was gifted in depicting natural detail, but he never painted pure landscapes, preferring pictures with a lesson. He was one of the leading artists of Utrecht and trained many major artists of the next generation.


  • Title: Parable of the Wheat and the Tares
  • Date Created: 1624 (Baroque)
  • Physical Dimensions: w132.5 x h100.4 cm
  • Type: painting
  • Rights: Gift of the Dr. Francis D. Murnaghan Fund, 1973, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/
  • External Link: The Walters Art Museum
  • Medium: oil on canvas
  • Provenance: Justice James A. Murnaghan Collection, Dublin, by 1929; Walters Art Museum, 1973, by gift.
  • Place of Origin: Utrecht, Netherlands
  • ExhibitionHistory: Masters of Seventeenth Century Dutch Landscape Painting. Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, Amsterdam; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Boston; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia. 1987-1988; Masters of Light: Dutch Painters in Utrecht During the Golden Age. Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, San Francisco; The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore; The National Gallery, London. 1997-1998; Highlights from the Collection. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1998-2001; The Glory of the Golden Age. Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, Amsterdam. 2000
  • Artist: Abraham Bloemaert

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