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Samson and Delilah

Painting, 1620, 152.3×232 cm

Description of the artwork «Samson and Delilah»

Twenty years van Dyck has written his version of the biblical story of Samson and Delilah when I was working in the Studio Rubens.

Israeli opposition leader Samson from the tribe of militiaman described in the old Testament Book of Judges. Samson possessed great strength and was invincible as long as fell in love with the Philistine woman Delilah. On behalf of the rulers of his people, Delilah did Samson, that his strength is in his hair, which has not been cut since birth. After lovemaking, a woman called to asleep on her lap Samson Barber. Hair was cut, Samson lost his strength, was captured by the Philistines, cast into prison and blinded.

Of course, as van Dijk interprets this biblical scene more clearly the influence of his teacher, Peter Paul Rubens. For a dozen years before Rubens wrote his "Samson and Delilah"(1609), and van Dyck is obviously under the impression from this picture. In particular, he borrows from Rubens, one of the characters – the old woman. In the biblical text it is not mentioned. Most likely, Rubens came up with a new protagonist – an old woman, the matchmaker who arranged the meeting of Samson and Philistine corrupt beauty of Delilah.

Developing a system of characters, van Dyck has taken the next step: the woman he depicted in a pair with another woman, much younger. Together they, young and old, staring with an expression of horror at what is about to happen. Interestingly, this technique is suggested in "Samson and Delilah" – fresh image in which the characters are in contrasting opposition – would later become van Dyck one of the favorite. He often will work in the genre pair portrait, contrasting his characters in color and temperament (see, for example, "Self-portrait with sir Endymion porter"or represented at the Pushkin Museum "Portrait of lady d Aubigny and Countess of Portland.").

In addition to Rubens in the painting of van Dyck there is also the influence Caravaggio. It manifests itself in inherent in the art of Baroquecontrast of light and shade, and vigorous, almost caravaggesque gestures of the characters, and that made some sarcastically call "the aesthetics of the dirty heels". This shocking detail is borrowed from van Dyck, Caravaggio, whose paintings he probably could see in the personal collection of Rubens.

"Samson and Delilah" by van Dyck depicts the moment when the treacherous Delilah Topless Barber sends a warning hand gesture that he inadvertently awakened just asleep after the exertions of the hero. In the background, behind the pillar are the guards, ready to grab Samson as soon as he was deprived of his fabulous strength.

Between 1628 and 1632 years (i.e. a decade later) van dyke will return to this biblical story in the picture "Take Samson into custody". It is much more dramatic than the one we have considered because it represents the next moment in this story: Samson woke up and experience the horror and frustration of knowing that you have just been betrayed by someone you loved.

Author: Anna Yesterday
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About the artwork

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Religious scene, Mythological scene

Style of art: Baroque

Technique: Oil

Materials: Canvas

Date of creation: 1620

Size: 152.3×232 cm

Artwork in selections: 8 selections

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