An image of The release of St Peter

Bernardo Strozzi

(Italy 1581 – 02 Sep 1644)

The release of St Peter

Other titles:
The release of Saint Peter
15th–19th c European art
Further information

Bernardo Strozzi's experience as a Capuchin monk only partly explains the certainties presented for contemplation in this master-ful canvas. Far more telling are the formal conventions of baroque painting that underscore its every detail, from its diagonal dynamic to its brazen colouring. This work can almost be read as a dictionary of Counter-Reformation precepts. 'The release of St Peter' responds to the Catholic doctrines that reinvigorated European art at the beginning of the seventeenth century. These centred on a call to arms to artists for greater realism and a more directly rendered spirituality. The angel delivering Peter from his bonds is depicted with the naturalism of an artisan going about a chore, while the saint himself is shown in glassy-eyed ecstasy - a favourite condition of baroque painting. Strozzi divides his pigment into areas of flashy impasto and delicate glazing. Flesh, fabrics, feathers and furry tufts of hair are indicated in brilliant passages of 'alla prima' painting.

AGNSW Handbook, 1999.

circa 1635
oil on canvas
125.5 x 114.0 cm stretcher; 149.5 x 138.8 x 7.0 cm frame
Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.

Purchased 1965
Accession number
Palazzo Labia, Venice/Italy, possibly the 'Release of St Peter' which was in the Palazzo Labia
Van Diemen, circa 1921-circa 1955, Berlin/Germany, [dealer] in Van Diemen's collection by 1921-1955
Galerie Sanct Lucas, Vienna, pre 1965, Vienna/Austria, dates unknown, after Van Diemen
Private Collection, pre 1965, Switzerland, dates unknown, before Burchard
Dr O.A. Burchard, pre 1965, England, Purchased by K.J. Hewett Ltd, executor of Dr Burchard's estate, 1965.
K.J. Hewett Ltd. London, pre Oct 1965, London/England, Purchased by the AGNSW from K.J. Hewett Ltd. 1965