COUWENBERGH, Christiaen van
(b. 1604, Delft, d. 1667, Cologne)

The Capture of Samson

Oil on canvas, 156 x 196 cm
Dordrechts Museum, Dordrecht

This painting was purchased by the city of Dordrecht in 1632 and installed in the meeting room of the town hall.

The two main figures and the general arrangement of the interior in Van Couwenbergh's picture are based upon an engraving of about 1613 by the Haarlem artist Jacob Matham (1571-1631) after Rubens's large panel Samson and Delilah in the National Gallery, London. Van Couwenbergh referred to engravings after Rubens on several occasions. His father, Gillis, was an engraver and art dealer as well as a silversmith in Delft, so that the painter probably had access to a large stock of prints. Rubens's tour of the northern Netherlands in July 1627 - he visited Delft and was honoured at a banquet given by Van Honthorst in Utrecht - and the Flemish master's stature at the Dutch court must also have made an impression upon the young history painter, whose work in the 1620s was mostly confined to amusing genre scenes.

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