DELEN, Dirck van
(b. 1604/5, Heusden, d. 1671, Arnemuiden)

Church Interior with the Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican

Oil on panel, 49 x 56 cm
The Clark Art Institute, Williamstown

Here, a seventeenth-century church provides the setting for a parable from St Luke's Gospel (Luke 18:9-14) that contrasts virtuous humility and sinful pride. The Pharisee (a strict follower of Hebrew law) stands at the base of a column exalting his righteous way of life, while the publican (a tax collector) bows his head and prays for mercy.

Dirck van Delen specialized in painting architecture, occasionally collaborating with other artists for the depiction of figures. In this instance, he worked with the Dutch painter Cornelis van Poelenburch, who seamlessly blended the figures into this monumental interior. Such collaborations were a specialty of artists in the seventeenth-century Netherlands.