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Painting Title Samson and Delilah
Collection York Art Gallery
Artist Soutman, Pieter Claesz. (Dutch painter, printmaker, and publisher, ca. 1580-1657)
Date 1642 (dated)
Signed yes

Samson rests his sleepy head on the lap of Delilah, surrounded by a servant with shears and a woman with a candle. The subject is taken from Judges 16.15-20. Samson was one of the last of the judges of the ancient Israelites mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. He was given by God a supernatural strength, that he would lose if he shaved his head. After he fell in love in Delilah, he revealed his secret to her and she called up her servant to shave off the seven locks from his head when he was asleep. Samson lost his strength and Delilah betrayed him to his enemies.

The composition derives from the Samson and Delilah by van Dyck (Dulwich Picture Gallery, London). The hands and arms of the servant and Delilah are closely copied; the model for Samson appears identical. Another source of inspiration (especially for the pose of Samson) would be Samson and Delilah by Peter Paul Rubens (about 1609-10, National Gallery, London, NG6461), or perhaps more likely its engraved copy by Jacob Matham (1613), where the composition is reversed, just as in the Soutman's painting.

Current Accession Number YORAG : 15
Inscription front cl (on the shears) P. Soutman / F A 1642
Subject religion (Samson and Delilah); figure; interior
Measurements 150 x 132 cm (estimate)
Material oil on canvas
Acquisition Details Given by the Friends of the Gallery Society 1949.
Provenance John Pelham Pavillon, Crowhurst Park, 1949, purchased by Roland, Browse & Delbanco.
Principal Exhibitions Acquisition in Focus, National Gallery, London, 1983.
Publications York Art Gallery Catalogue - Catalogue of Paintings, Vol. I: Foreign Schools 1350-1800, City of York Art Gallery, York, 1961, p. 63, pl. 45; Catalogue Supplement 1974: Amendments and Additions to Catalogue Volumes I and II, City of York Art Gallery, York, 1975, p. 11; PREVIEW City of York Art Gallery Bulletin, 116, May 1977, vol. XXX, pp. 1027-1031; Wright, C. and Robertson, A., Dutch Seventeenth Century Paintings from Yorkshire Public Collections, Leeds, 1982, p. 121; Brown,C., Acquisition in Focus; Rubens: Samson and Delilah, National Gallery, London, 1983, pp. 17-18, fig. 13; Sutton, P.C., Northern European Paintings in the Philadelphia Museum of Art: From the Sixteenth Through the Nineteenth Century, Philadelphia, 1990, p. 305, fig. 107-3; Oil Paintings in Public Ownership. North Yorkshire, London, 2006, p. 335.
Notes Soutman was working as a pupil in Rubens' studio in Antwerp from about 1618; in 1624-28 he served as a royal painter of the Polish Court, then returned to Haarlem. There are few surviving works by Soutman and most of these are portraits and portrait groups. There are two other religious paintings by Soutman in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford: Moses striking the Rock and Christ appearing to the Disciples, both undated.
Rights Owner York Museums Trust (York Art Gallery)
Author Dr Magdalena Łanuszka



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