About this artwork

This is certainly the largest and one of the earliest surviving paintings by Vermeer. It is also his only known work of a biblical subject. St Luke’s Gospel tells of Christ’s visit to the sisters’ house. Christ praised Mary’s willingness to sit and listen to his teachings, unlike Martha who was preoccupied with housekeeping. The strong play of shadow and light, the characterisation of the figures and broad handling of paint were probably inspired by the work of artists from Utrecht, who in turn were influenced by Caravaggio’s art. Given the unusual size and subject-matter it is likely that the painting was a specific commission.

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  • title:
    Christ in the House of Martha and Mary
  • accession number:
    NG 1670
  • artist:
    Johannes VermeerDutch (1632 - 1675)
  • depicted:
  • gallery:
  • object type:
  • subject:
  • materials:
    Oil on canvas
  • date created:
    About 1654 - 1656
  • measurements:
    158.50 x 141.50 cm (framed: 197.50 x 179.20 x 15.50 cm)
  • credit line:
    Presented by the sons of W A Coats in memory of their father 1927
  • photographer:
    Antonia Reeve

Johannes Vermeer

Johannes Vermeer