The Parable of the King Who Prepared a Wedding

Maerten van Heemskerck1555

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum

In the strongly lit foreground of a multi-level architectural space, men flay a large ox, while others in a small alcove at right butcher a calf. Standing on a flight of stairs above, a king dispatches a servant to invite guests to the bountiful feast that is being prepared. This drawing represents an early moment in a Biblical parable (Matthew 22: 3-14) in which the kingdom of heaven is compared to a king's banquet whose guests include people of all walks of life, some worthy and others unworthy of God's benevolence.

Maerten van Heemskerck enhances this narrative scene through the high-contrast juxtaposition of black chalk and white gouache on dark green paper. The implied space he creates is dramatic; like a multi-tiered stage set. Aspects of the drawing reflect Heemskerck's varied artistic influences. The figures' muscular physiques demonstrate the artist's familiarity with Italianate and antique nudes. His decision to focus on the ox and its skull and bones follows a Dutch artistic tradition to portray "still lifes" found in local markets.

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  • Title: The Parable of the King Who Prepared a Wedding
  • Creator: Maerten van Heemskerck
  • Date: 1555
  • Physical Dimensions: 20.3 x 26.4 cm (8 x 10 3/8 in.)
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Pen and brown ink and wash over black chalk heightened with white gouache on green prepared paper, incised
  • Source Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
  • Signature: Signed "Martin va Heemskerck" on the stone plinth and "1555" on the brick under the feet of the king.
  • Object Type: Drawing
  • Object Status: Permanent Collection
  • Number: 2003.18
  • Display Location: Not currently on view
  • Department: Drawings
  • Culture: Dutch
  • Classification: Drawings