Entry of Christ into Jerusalem

 
Artist
Creation date
Materials
oil on canvas
Dimensions
59 1/2 x 90 1/4 in. 71 1/8 x 103 in. (framed)
Credit line
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Herman C. Krannert
Accession number
58.3
Collection
Currently On View In
William C. Griffith Jr. and Carolyn C. Griffith Gallery - H215

In 1618, Peter Paul Rubens referred to the young Anthony van Dyck as "the best of my pupils."  This painting, which may have been created as early as 1617, when the artist was only 18 years old, provides a clear demonstration of Van Dyck's remarkably precocious talent. He was already a master of Rubens's epic baroque style, seen in the muscular figure who stoops to cast a branch in Christ's path. The coarse realism of this figure and his companions, together with the crowded restlessness of the composition, are hallmarks of Van Dyck's youthful style.

Dr. Paul Mersch [1859-?], Paris;{1} sale at (Keller & Reiner, Berlin) in 1905.{2} Rudolf Kohtz, Berlin , by 1909.{3} Paal Kaasen [1883-1964], Christiania (today Oslo), Norway, by 1924;{4} purchased by (P. & D. Colnaghi & Co., London) through an unidentified intermediary;{5} purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Herman C. Krannert for the John Herron Art Institute (now Indianapolis Museum of Art) in 1958 (58.3).

{1}Paul Mersch was the vice-consul of Luxembourg, residing in Paris, and son-in-law of the art dealer Charles Sedelmeyer [1837-1925], Paris. It remains unknown if he obtained this painting with Sedelmeyer’s assistance. On Mersch, see the online publication of Biographie nationale du pays de Luxembourg, fasc. 19, p. 216 available at www.luxemburgensia.bnl.lu
{2}See Katalog der Sammlung Dr. Paul Mersch, Paris: II. Teil, Keller & Reiner, 27-28 November 1905, lot no. 31, pl. 1.
{3}Kohtz is given as the owner in Emil Schaeffer, Van Dyck, des Meisters Gemälde, (“Klassiker der Kunst” series) Stuttgart, 1909.
{4}See the photocopy of a letter to Paal Kaasen from Gustav Pauli of the Kunsthalle Hamburg, dated 25 September 1924, in the IMA Historical File (58.3), stating that the painting had been on loan to Hamburg for several years. See David G. Carter’s article, “Christ’s Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem,” Bulletin John Herron Art Institute Indianapolis, vol. 45 (1958), p.23, footnote 1, for additional details on the provenance of the painting.
{5}See a letter from Colnaghi & Co. to David Carter, dated 23 May 1958, in IMA Historical File (58.3).
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Indianapolis Museum of Art: Highlights of the Collection (2005)

In 1618, Peter Paul Rubens referred to the young Anthony van Dyck as “the best of my pupils.” An important example of Van Dyck’s precocious talent, The Entry of Christ into Jerusalem may have been painted as early as 1617, when the artist, still a member of Rubens’s workshop, was only eighteen years old. He was already a master of Rubens’s epic Baroque style, conspicuously evident in the muscular figure who stoops to lay a branch in Christ’s path. The coarse realism of this figure and his companions, together with the crowded restlessness of the composition itself, are hallmarks of Van Dyck’s youthful style. This “rough style,” with its thick, slashing brushwork and brilliant colors, is quite different from Rubens’s more refined manner.

Van Dyck’s representation of Christ’s entry into Jerusalem closely follows gospel accounts. He rides on the back of an ass’s foal, the small animal barely visible beneath Christ’s voluminous blue and crimson robes. His disciples accompany him on foot toward the city, where they are met by a crowd of people who have come to welcome him. Christ’s triumphant entry is commemorated on Palm Sunday, signaling the beginning of Holy Week.