The Lord at the supper at the house of Martha and Mary
Year mention: 1617
Christ in the house of Martha and Mary

Christ is depicted in a blasphemous and funny manner in artworks depicting Christ in the house of Martha and Mary

Molanus, Johannes
Jan Cornelisz Vermeyen - Wedding in Cana, ca. 1530 - ca. 1532
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam,

Molanus condemns the depiction of Christ in blasphemous and funny manner in artworks about Christ in the house of Martha and Mary.

“And again from the Institutio Matrimonii: ‘Some artists, when they paint something from the stories of the Evangelists, they depict impious nonsense. For example, when they depict our Lord who is hosted for supper at the house of Martha and Mary, they depict the young John, secretly chatting in a corner with Martha, while He is speaking to Mary, and Peter emptying a chalice. And again, at the supper, they show Martha sitting behind John with one hand thrown on his shoulder and the other as if making fun of Christ, who is unaware of it all. Also, there is Peter already flushed with wine still putting a goblet to his lips. And besides these things are blasphemous and impious, they also seem a bit funny. In sacred matters, it is proper that the same standards apply to painting as to speech.”

“Et iterum ex Christiani matrimonii institutione: ‘Artifices quidam cum pingunt aliquid ex Evangelica historia, affingunt impias ineptias. Veluti cum exprimunt Dominum apud Martham ac Mariam exceptum convivio, dum Dominus loquitur cum Maria fingunt Ioannem adolescentem clam in angulo fabulantem cum Martha, Petrum exiccantem cantarum. Rursum in convivio Martham a tergo assistentem Ioanni altera manu iniecta humeris altera velut irridente Christum quit nihil horum sentiat. Ite, Petrum iam vino rubicundum, cyathum admovere labris. Et heac cum blesphema sint et impia, tamen faceta videntur. De rebus facris qualis debet esse fermo, talem decet esse picturam.”

Date mention

Historical Location

Iconclass Number

Molanus, De historia sanctarum imaginum et picturarum (1617), book 2, ch. 42, 149

David Freedberg, “Johannes Molanus on Provocative Paintings. De Historia Sanctarum Imaginum et
Picturarum, Book II, Chapter 42″, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, 1971, Vol. 34 (1971), pp. 229-

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