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Title A Martyr of the Sixteenth Century: Johanna Van Santhoven, a Protestant, Led Out to be Buried Alive
Collection Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
Artist Geets, Willem (Belgian painter, 1838-1919)
Date 1883 (dated)
Signed yes
Description This picture caused controversy when it was exhibited in the Irish International Exhibition in Dublin in 1907. Catholics found the detailed and pointed description included in the catalogue for this exhibition a calculated insult to their religion. It was pointed out in the Catholic press that the Committee of Selection for this exhibition contained not a single Catholic. The event sparked a debate on the oppressed condition of Catholics in Ireland. Geets' painting was, as many pointed out, historically inaccurate. Johanna van Santhoven, or Jannekin de Santhove as she is called in the historical manuscript, was not a Lutheran. She was buried alive in 1514, that is three years before Luther's break with Rome. Her crime may have been secular or she may have been a Waldensian heretic, a member of a cult which was prevalent in the Low Countries immediately before Luther's Reformation.
Current Accession Number 1885P2470
Former Accession Number P.247085
Inscription front ll 'W. Geets 1883
Subject religion (martyrdom); history (Jannekin de Santhove)
Measurements 180.3 x 259.1 cm cm (estimate)
Material oil on canvas
Acquisition Details Given by the Rt. Hon. William Kenrick 1884.
Provenance The artist; William Kenrick
Principal Exhibitions Royal Academy, London, 1884, cat. no. 824; Royal British Society of Artists, 1884, cat. no. 182; Autumn Exhibition, Guildhall, London, 1906, cat. no. 178; Irish International Exhibition, Dublin, 1907 ; Whitechapel Art Gallery, 1909, cat. no. 77; Bradford Art Gallery, 1910, cat. no. 19
Publications Ormond, R., 'Victorian Patronage in Birmingham', Apollo, 1968, p. 245; Catalogue of the Paintings in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, 1930; Foreign Paintings in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, A Summary Catalogue 1983, no. 71, ill.
Rights Owner Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
Author Dr Patricia Smyth



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