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ID number:  BIRBI-71.1
Institution:  The Barber Institute of Fine Arts
Artist / Maker:  Preti, Mattia (1613-1699)
Title / Object name:  The Crucifixion of St Peter
Object type:  Painting
Place made:  Naples
Culture:  Italian
Date made:  1656-60
Materials:  Oil on canvas
Measurements:  194.5 x 194.3 cm; framed: 216 x 214 x 7 cm
Provenance:  Ferdinand van den Eynden, Naples; Giovanna van den Eynden; Palazzo Colonna di Stigliano, Naples; Private Collection, Paris; Sotheby's, London, 25 June 1969 (lot 72); Purchased from the Heim Gallery in July 1971 for £30,000.

According to tradition, Saint Peter, Christ’s closest disciple and the first pope, chose to be crucified upside down to avoid comparison with his master. Here, the two executioners, shown with brutal realism, heave the cross upwards. One looks directly at the viewer, including us in a scene which seems to take place only feet away. The stormy sky is split by a light which dramatically illuminates the saint. A pagan idol looks down from the left. It was Peter’s refusal to worship pagan gods which resulted in his martyrdom by the Emperor Nero.

Preti mainly worked in Naples where he was much influenced by Caravaggio (1517 - 1610).

Notes:  Exhibited: 'The Order of the Saint John in Malta', Palace of the Grand Master and the Museum of St John's Co-Cathedral, Valletta, Malta 1970, no. 408a; 'Fourteen Important Neopolitan Paintings', Heim Gallery, London, UK, 1971, no. 6; 'Painting in Naples, 1606-1705, from Caravaggio to Giordano', Royal Academy, London, UK, 02 October 1982 - 12 December 1982, no. 103; 'Beyond Caravaggio', National Gallery, London, UK, 12 October 2016 - 15 January 2017, National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin, 11 February - 14 May 2017, Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland, 17 June - 24 September 2017

1 Related People

Preti, Mattia

2 Related Publications

Painting in Naples 1606-1705

Royal Academy, London
Mattia Preti
Corace, E.

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