Saturday, August 07, 2010

The Supper at Emmaeus

Here's another painting Sir Thomas Browne may have once viewed. 'The Supper at Emmaus' by Cornelis Engelsz (1575-1650).

Its a painting which is a great example of the Dutch 'Golden Age', combining two of the most popular of all Dutch genres, Biblical scenes combined with still-life. The detail of the various supper items depicted in the foreground, bread, fish and meat is exceptionally realistic. The central message of the picture is in the stark contrast between the very public, lavish and earthy supper in the foreground, to the private, frugal and heavenly supper depicted in the dimly-lit background. The Resurrected Christ, having broken bread has just revealed his identity to two of his disciples. (Luke 24 verses 13-35).

'The Supper at Emmaeus' (1612) was owned by the lawyer and MP Nathaniel Bacon (1550 - 1622) who was knighted in 1604. He was the uncle of Nicolas Bacon (1623-1666) also of Gillingham Hall. As Browne was a friend and visitor of Nicolas, even dedicating his Discourse 'The Garden of Cyrus' to him. it's highly possible he could have viewed this painting when visiting Gillingham Hall. The painting was subsequently purchased from the Bacon family by Norwich Castle Museum in 2004.
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