(b. 1634, Napoli, d. 1705, Napoli)

Expulsion of the Moneychangers from the Temple

Chiesa degli Gerolamini, Naples

The new church type, developed in the Baroque period, offered large format vertical picture surfaces on the inner façade and on the dividing wall between the nave and the choir, which were used both for oil paintings and for frescoes. It was not as easy to see the pictures on the inner façade because of the light from the windows, yet it was costumary to incorporate these surfaces into the iconographic program. The most magnificent solutions for this space were found in Naples. Luca Giordano came up with the most ingenious way of reinterpreting this surface through painting. His multifigured and highly animated Expulsion of the Moneychangers from the Temple on the entrance wall of the Chiesa degli Gerolamini, a composition perfectly adapted to the architectural situation with its large centre doorway, would become one of his most celebrated works.

The scene can be understood as a reminder to viewers, in the spirit of the Counter-Reformation, that respectful behaviour was expected in sacred spaces, which explains why such scenes are so common on entrance walls in the Baroque period.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.