HONTHORST, Gerrit van
(b. 1590, Utrecht, d. 1656, Utrecht)

The Denial of St Peter

Oil on canvas, 111 x 149 cm
Institute of Arts, Minneapolis

As compared with Italian painters taking up the same theme, in Honthorst's painting the emphasis is shifted towards the dramatic potential of artificial light. The face of the maidservant who identifies Peter as one of the followers of Christ is sharply illuminated by the candle she holds. Its flame is hidden by the outstretched arm of another accuser, creating a complex pattern of superimposed bright and dark areas and enhancing the atmospheric effect of the glowing light.