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Between and Mortarboard


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Christ Healing the Deaf-Mute

Accession Number
1960/2.93

Title
Christ Healing the Deaf-Mute

Artist(s)
Philippe de Champaigne

Object Creation Date
circa 1650-1660

Medium & Support
oil on canvas

Dimensions
23 7/16 in x 29 3/16 in (59.53 cm x 74.14 cm)

Credit Line
Museum Purchase

Label copy
March 28, 2009
Philippe de Champaigne was an enormously successful court painter, patronized by the kings and queens of Europe. Although he is well known as a portrait painter, he also produced landscapes, which were greatly admired for their strong sense of atmosphere and deft gradations of color; many of his elaborate landscapes provide the setting for biblical stories. In this rendition of Christ’s miraculous healing of a deaf-mute—which corresponds almost exactly to the account given in Mark 7:32–34—Christ places one hand on the ear of the afflicted man kneeling before him, and a finger in the man’s mouth. It is the very moment of the miracle, and as his startled followers look on and gesture in disbelief, Christ gazes heavenward; others, including a lone boatman who paddles across the river, rush to the scene to witness the event. Dramatic as the subject is, the figures appear to be almost secondary to the artist’s interest in creating a richly detailed landscape. The subtle colors and masterful rendition of light imbue the surrounding scene with a quiet grandeur that complements the drama of Christ’s miracle and serves to remind the viewer that the natural world is not the least of God’s miracles.

Subject matter
On a riverbank in a forested landscape, Christ heals a deaf and mute man while two apostles look on in astonishment (Mark 7:32-34). Some of the other apostles emerge from the trees behind them, and other figures are visible on a path in the background an in the water near the opposite bank. The subtle yet saturated colors and masterful rendition of light and atmosphere imbue the surrounding landscape with a quiet grandeur that complements the drama of Christ’s miracle.

Physical Description
This painting depicts a river passing through a wooded landscape as human figures, dwarfed by the towering trees, move along its banks. The majestic landscape dominates the painting, but a group of four men in the right foreground also competes for attention since the bright, saturated primary colors of their robes stand out sharply against the muted tonalities of their surroundings. One of the men, wearing a blue cloak, places his left finger in the mouth of a man kneeling before him and touches the side of his head with his right hand. A third man leans forward to touch the kneeling figure's shoulder while the fourth, in a magnificent red cloak, raises his hands in astonishment.

Primary Object Classification
Painting

Collection Area
Western

Rights
If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit http://umma.umich.edu/request-image for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form.

Keywords
Christianity
landscapes (representations)
miracles
oil paintings (visual works)
rivers

& Author Notes

Web Use Permitted