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While fleeing from the Philistines, Samson fell in love with Delilah. This did not go unnoticed by his pursuers, and they promised Delilah a large amount of silver if she could find out where in his great strength lay. Upon her questioning, he lied to her three times and his capture failed, but Delilah did not give up, reminding him that their love vow did not permit secrets. Finally, he told her the truth and revealed the connection between his power and his hair. “And she made him sleep upon her knees […] and she called for a man, and she caused him to shave off the seven locks of his head. […] and his strength went from him. […] And he awoke […] and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the LORD was departed from him. But the Philistines took him, and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza […] and he did grind in the prison house.” (Judges 16:19–21.) Van Dyck used several artistic sources for the present painting: one detail of the scene – Samson’s desperately grasping the leg of the traitress – is borrowed from a work by Titian. With this adaptation van Dyck introduced a significant change of interpretation that became characteristic of his work, althoughit derives from Rubens with regard to its landscape format and the diagonal depiction of Samson’s gestures. Delilah’s dismay at betraying her lover is mingled with grief over her loss. She seems to regret her treacherous act, or at least is painfully moved by its dramatic consequence. Van Dyck “sentimentalises” the event, while Rubens had portrayed Delilah as an unscrupulous seductress and Samson as a captive, entirely occupied with fending off the soldiers. © Cäcilia Bischoff, Masterpieces of the Picture Gallery. A Brief Guide to the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna 2010

Details

  • Title: Samson and Delilah
  • Creator: Anton van Dyck
  • Date Created: 1628/1630
  • Style: Flemish Baroque
  • Provenance: donated to Archduke Leopold Wilhelm
  • Physical Dimensions: w2540 x h1460 cm (without frame)
  • Inventory Number: GG 512
  • Artist Biography: The seventh of twelve children born to a wealthy silk merchant in Belgium, Anthony van Dyck began to paint at an early age. By the age of nineteen, he had become a teacher in Antwerp. Soon afterward, he collaborated and trained with the famous Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens.In his early twenties, van Dyck went to Italy, where he studied the paintings of Titian and Paolo Veronese and worked as a successful portrait painter for the Italian nobility. He became so well known that King Charles I of England summoned him to London to be his exclusive court painter and eventually gave him a knighthood. Van Dyck's numerous portraits of Charles I and his family were greatly admired by his contemporaries. Realizing that Charles's political and financial fortunes were in decline, van Dyck left England for Antwerp and Paris. A year later, after several unsuccessful projects abroad, he returned to London in ill health and died shortly thereafter. Van Dyck is buried in Saint Paul's Cathedral, a distinction reserved only for illustrious British subjects. ©J. Paul Getty Trust
  • Type: paintings
  • External Link: http://www.khm.at/en/collections/picture-gallery
  • Medium: Oil on Canvas

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