The Baptism of the Moorish Chamberlain

Gillis d'Hondecoeter



De Hondecoeter was a pupil of Gillis van Coninxloo II (Antwerp 1544 – Amsterdam 1607). In the tradition of this last, this scene is set in a forest landscape. It was van Coninxloo II who, together with others in the midsixteenth century, developed the landscape into an independent genre, this painting being a fine example. The landscape is used as background, the trees serving as the wings of the setting, which is the story of the baptism of the Moorish chamberlain, a theme taken from the Acts of the Apostles (8: 26-40). Commanded by an angel, the deacon Philip is travelling from Jerusalem to Gaza. On the road, he falls in with the Moorish chamberlain returning from a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. The Moor has been reading the Book of Isaiah in his carriage, but does not understand the content. Philip offers to explain it to him and, using the Old Testament, he preaches the teaching of Christ. Arriving at a stream, the chamberlain requests baptism.

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