BREENBERGH, Bartholomeus
(b. 1598/1600, Deventer, d. 1657, Amsterdam)

The Preaching of St John the Baptist

Oil on panel, 55 x 75 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Breenbergh made contact with Lastman straightaway after his return to Amsterdam from Rome. That he was impressed by Lastman's paintings can be seen in the distinct Lastmanian character of the crowd of figures in his The Preaching of St John the Baptist. But his own contribution to the painting of the religious subject (one of the most popular in seventeenth-century Holland, probably because of the importance the Dutch placed on preaching the word of the Gospel) is new, and more significant. It is evident in his skilful integration of the figures into the vast panoramic Italianate landscape, his full control of light and atmospheric effects, and the pronounced accent provided by huge imaginary classical ruins inspired by the remains of the Colosseum.