Bartholomeus van BASSEN
Parable Of The Rich Man And Lazarus
~1631 or 1637
Oil on panel, 58.00x94.80cm
Signature in the lower right corner
Painter and architect, Bartholomeus van Bassen was one of the main representatives of the architectural genre in the 17th century Dutch painting, and an author of imaginary church and palace interiors. Most staffage figures in his paintings were usually executed by other painters, mainly by Frans II Francken, Esaias van de Velde, Cornelis van Poelenburgh and Anthonie Palamedes. In 1638 van Bassen was appointed the city architect of The Hague.
“Parable of the rich man and Lazarus” belongs among the typical works created by Bartholomeus van Bassen in his mature years. In this painting the interior of the rich man from the parable is depicted in great detail. The author is focused on creating the perspective of space and conveying the room’s elaborate decorations and delicate patterns on the walls. Apart from the interior also the characters have been finely painted; the author has vividly depicted their postures and fashionable clothes. The painting’s apparent carefreeness is accompanied by certain moral values. As a general rule a painting should be read from left to right, so at first the eye feasts on the rich spectrum of colours and the lush and glamorous interior of the rich man’s residence, up to the sharp contrast of the hunched figure of Lazarus in ragged clothes. Lazarus’s face, turned to the viewer, seems calm and focused, as if warning the viewer against frivolous life.
The staffage figures in this painting were executed by Anthonie Palamedes.
This painting is one of a number of similar fantasy interiors by van Bassen, including a work with the same theme dated 1624 held in the Lower Saxony State Museum in Hannover; a painting in the art history department of the University of Göttingen; and the undated Renaissance interior with banqueters held in Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum.