VERMEER, Johannes
(b. 1632, Delft, d. 1675, Delft)

Christ in the House of Martha and Mary

1654-55 (?)
Oil on canvas, 160 x 142 cm
National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh

Signature: Signed(?) lower left on the small bench.

Provenance: The painting appeared out of the blue ca. 1900. This painting was bought by an antique dealer from a family in Bristol for 8 sterling. Later, it became part of the Arthur Lewis Collection, London, and was exhibited in April 1901, Cat. No. 1 by the art dealer Forbes and Paterson, London. Mr. W. A. Coats is mentioned in the catalog as the owner. It was at that time that the signature had first become visible. Cataloged by the previous owner, Skelmorlie Castle; Scotland, 1904, no. 37. Bequeathed by the two sons of Coats in 1927 to the museum.

It seems likely that we have here an Italianate copy after a not yet identified original by a minor Italian master. The numerous borrowings from other artists that were easily discovered by art critics point to a pasticcio more than to the youthful work of a potential great. Italian sources, such as the figure of Christ in the picture by Andrea Vaccaro (Naples, Pinacoteca Reggia di Capodimonte), the Christ in another painting by Alessandro Allori (Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum), or the gesture of the Christ's right arm in a work by Bernardo Cavallino (National Museum, Naples), join evident derivations from the Fleming Erasmus Quellinus (Musée des Beaux Arts, Valenciennes). This figure of Christ belongs to the repertory of Italian painters and was used in many studios in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

The signature differs considerably in the writing from authentic ones. It can be considered spurious.