The Angel of the Resurrection appears to the Guardians of Christ’s Grave, Benjamin Gerritsz CUYP

Benjamin Gerritsz CUYP

The Angel of the Resurrection appears to the Guardians of Christ’s Grave

Oil on panel, 70x57.5cm

Signed "Cuyp"


Benjamin Gerritsz Cuyp, a representative of a dynasty of painters from Dordrecht, is noted primarily for paintings of biblical and genre scenes. Characteristic features of his works are dramatic situations, masterful execution of individual characters, and strong and precise depiction of emotions, which was typical for the art of the Caravaggists active in the city of Utrecht, and the great artist Rembrandt van Rijn.

Cuyp’s paintings are represented in public collections worldwide, including the Detroit Institute of Arts, Michigan, USA; the State Hermitage, Saint Petersburg, Russia; the Liechtenstein Museum, Vienna, Austria; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas, USA; the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Holland; the Brukenthal National Museum, Sibiu, Romania; the Bordeaux Museum of Fine Arts, France; The Kremer Collection, The Hague, Holland.

The scene depicted in this painting that the author has signed “Cuyp”, is an episode from the Gospel of St. Matthew (28:1-7), according to which the angel of the Lord descended from heaven to the tomb of Christ, and came and rolled back the stone from the door. ”His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow” (Gospel of St. Matthew 28:2-3). ”For fear of him, the guards shook, and became like dead men” (Gospel of St. Matthew 28:2-4).

In this painting Cuyp has brilliantly painted the light which has acquired divine dimensions. The author’s bold and skilful painting style serves the objective of art of those times when the artists tried to convey Christian themes in a responsible and veritable manner in order to highlight their dogmatics in an emotionally correct way.

The angel, surrounded by light, penetrates the darkness and frightens the Roman guards. The precisely selected painting technique of Cuyp enhances the hectic atmosphere where Christ is present only symbolically, represented by the poetically unearthly glow around the angel’s head, illuminating the cave’s mouth but exposing the guards so they must escape from it.


Trafalgar Galleries, London­
European private collection
Private collection, Switzerland


Sumowski, Werner: Die Gemälde der Rembrandt­Schüler, vol VI, Cat. No.2233, p. 3699, ill. p. 3818.

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