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 Sorgh, Hendrik Martensz. (Dutch painter, born 1609 or 1611, died 1670) , Christ in the House of Martha and Mary

Core Record

Title Christ in the House of Martha and Mary
Collection Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum
Artist Sorgh, Hendrik Martensz. (Dutch painter, born 1609 or 1611, died 1670)
Date 1645
Signed yes
Description In the Bible, Martha was a practical woman who reproached her contemplative sister Mary for sitting listening to Jesus rather than helping to prepare the meal. Jesus said that Mary had chosen the better part. Sorgh's painting depicts the three characters in a contemporary seventeenth-century setting. Martha, surrounded by worldly objects, is dressed as a normal housewife, whereas Mary with her Bible is draped in a cloak similar to Jesus' biblical robes. The two sides of the composition form a contrast between the mortality of the material world and the abstract notion of eternity offered by the word of God.
Current Accession Number 1899:1.29
Former Accession Number No. 30; No. 9; No. 1114
Inscription front ll 'H M. Sorgh 1645' (HM in monogram)
Subject religion (Christ in the house of Martha and Mary); figure; everyday life; interior
Measurements 39.3 x 50.8 cm cm (estimate)
Material oil on panel
Acquisition Details Given by Charles, 3rd Baron de Ferrieres, 1898.
Principal Exhibitions Images of a Golden Age, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, 1989-1990, cat. no. 89; Leselust: Niederländische Malerei von Rembrandt bis Vermeer, Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt, 1993-1994, cat. no. 72.
Publications Bénézit, E. Dictionnaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs, Paris, 1999, vol. 13, p. 38; Gowing, L., Vermeer, (1952) 1970, p. 83, n.10; Schultz, S., Leselust: Niederländische Malerei von Rembrandt bis Vermeer, Frankfurt, 1993, p. 284, ill. p. 285; Wright, C., Old Master Paintings in Britain, London, 1976, p. 190; Wright, C., Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museums, Baron de Ferrieres Collection: Catalogue of Foreign Paintings from the De Ferrieres Collection and Other Sources, Cheltenham, 1988, p. 41; Wright, C., Dutch Painting in the Seventeenth Century: Images of a Golden Age in British Collections, Birmingham, 1989, p. 113, ill. p. 114, fig. 89.

The subject is treated in a similar way in another painting by Johannes Spilberg, 1643 (Rijksmuseum Het Catharijneconvent, Utrecht).

Wright 1988 discusses the significance of Sorgh's painting in relation to Vermeer's very different treatment of the subject, painted in the 1650s, now in the National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh.

Listed in the Catalogue of the Pictures in the De Ferrieres Gallery, 1900, cat. no. 30; in Herdman, D. W., Catalogue of Paintings, Etchings and Sculptures in the Permanent Collection, 1931, cat. no. 9; and in Andrews, G., Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum Service: Fine Art Collection: Checklist Catalogue, 1979, cat. no. 1114.

Rights Owner Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museums
Author Dr Anne L. Cowe



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