Matthias Stomer (c. 1600 – after 1652)
THE MOCKING OF CHRIST
oil on canvas
98 by 148.6 cm.; 38 1/2 by 58 1/2 in.
Stomer painted several versions of this subject. The present version pre-empts them all, though bears the closest resemblance to the slightly larger canvas in the Hôpital Saint-Jean, Brussels, and another in the Norton Simon collection, Pasadena. In the former, as here, we see Christ isolated against a plain background in the left half of the picture plane, and three tormentors in a similarly triangular construction, to the right. In the latter the positions are reversed, and Christ is joined by a figure torturing him from behind. Both the other versions are illuminated by a Honthorst-ian candlelight from the centre of the composition, whereas here the source of light is undetermined, though clearly it emanates from outside of the picture to the left.
It is conjectured that Stom was born at Amersfoort or in the Utrecht area, but many details of his life are vague. An early mention of Stom was around 1630, when he lived in the same location as Paulus Bor had lived a few years earlier. He was a pupil of Gerard van Honthorst in Rome after 1615.
He remained in Rome until 1632, after which he traveled to Naples, where he stayed until 1640. He then moved to Palermo, and delivered paintings for churches in Caccamo and Monreale. He sold three paintings to Antonio Ruffo, duke of Messina. It is speculated that he died in Sicily, or alternatively in Northern Italy, where in 1652 he painted an altar piece for the church in Chiuduno.