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The Good Samaritan

Luca Giordano

(1634 - 1705) | 839.2

Date : Circa 1650 | Medium : Oil on canvas

Long attributed to Ribera, this painting in the Rouen collection is in fact very close to the works of the great Spanish artist who lived in Naples during the first half of the 17th century. The Good Samaritan therefore probably belongs to Giordano’s early period, before he changed his manner for the major religious commissions he received in the years between 1660 and 1665. 

The extremely tactile rendering of the physical reality of the bodies and materials thanks to a smooth, dense pictorial medium is highly reminiscent of the art of Ribera. The use of a dense, bright colour scheme is nevertheless characteristic of Giordano. Above all, however, there is a force, a violence and a sense of drama both in this man’s body twisted by suffering and in the severity of the man caring for him, all of which create effects of astonishing modernity. Eugène Delacroix describes it as a ‘miraculous’ work. This sense of lyricism will not only be re-discovered in the artist’s later works, but would seem already to herald the art of Goya or Daumier.