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Photo: Finnish National Gallery/ Hannu Pakarinen and Jenni Nurminen

ANDREA VACCARO (Naples 1604–1670)
Christ and the Adulteress
oil on canvas 124 x 179 cm
1630

Andrea Vaccaro was one of the most successful and best known Neapolitan painters of his day. He has been linked to the circle of Caravaggio and he also drew inspiration from Guido Reni and Anthony van Dyck. This painting belongs to the first phase of his career which is still less known. His earliest documented work is from 1636 and represents the beginning of his mature period. Vaccaro painted mainly religious subjects and only a few mythological subjects, landscapes and still lives are known.

The subject of this painting is based on the Biblical story of Christ and the Adulteress (John 7:53–8:11). The Pharisees asked Christ if they should stone the adulteress as required by the Law of Moses. Christ gave them the famous answer: “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” The painting carries a strong message of mercy and forgiveness.