Christ and the Centurion of Capernaum

Numerous figures cluster along a fortress wall, some appearing to be soldiers, while at center a man in plain cloth garb stands with his proper right arm outstretched over a man who kneels before him

Giandomenico Tiepolo (Venice 1727–1804 Venice)
Christ and the Centurion of Capernaum, ca. 1786–90
Pen and brown ink, orange-brown wash, and black chalk over a black chalk underdrawing on off-white laid paper
19 5/16 × 15 1/8 in. (490 × 384 mm)
Promised Gift from the Collection of Elizabeth and Jean-Marie Eveillard
Photo Joseph Coscia Jr.


Giandomenico Tiepolo produced three large suites of drawings. By far the most extensive is one of 314 sheets of paper that depicts the history of early Christianity, starting with Joachim and Anne and continuing through the martyrdom of saints Peter and Paul. This drawing belongs to this biblical series. The sheet was carefully worked from light to dark in pen, ink, and wash. Often transgressing the contours of the figures, Tiepolo’s approach to wash was so free that he even applied it with his finger (a fingerprint can still be seen at the bottom of the drawing). Only the key characters of this rarely depicted biblical scene are described with precision—Christ and the kneeling centurion, who believed his sick servant at home could be healed by the Lord’s word alone.

  263 — (1) Spoken Label and (2) Curator's Personal Reflection
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