The Entry into Jerusalem
  • TitleThe Entry into Jerusalem
  • Technique/ MaterialOil on canvas
  • DimensionsDimensions: (h x b) 86 x 120 cm
  • Artist/Maker Artist: Willem van Herp, Flemish, born 1614, dead 1677
  • CategoryPaintings, Paintings
  • Classificationpainting
  • Inventory No.NM 461
  • AcquisitionÖvertagande 1866 från Kongl. Museum (Lovisa Ulrika 1760)
  • Description
    Catalogue entry
    Images and media

    Description in Flemish paintings C. 1600-C. 1800 III, Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, 2010, 94:

    Technical notes: The painting’s support, a single
    piece of medium-weight, plain weave fabric, has been
    lined. The original tacking edges have been trimmed,
    especially at the top and bottom, and the painting
    mounted on a non-original strainer at the tacking edges
    of the lining canvas. The paint surface has been slightly
    extended, on the left and the right, by partially folding
    and incorporating the original (painted) tacking edges
    over the new wider strainer. Faint cusping is visible along
    the top and bottom edges.

    The original fabric support was prepared with a thick
    white ground, which probably contains chalk, followed
    by a cream-coloured layer, completely covering the
    underlying texture of the support.

    Paint is applied fairly thinly, in one or two opaque and
    semi-transparent layers, with low impastos in the white
    and yellow lights and minimal brushmarking overall.
    Limited use of translucent glazes can be noticed in the
    draperies, in the red mantles of Christ, one of the Apostles
    on the right, and a male figure on the left. Christ’s
    blue robe was underpainted in red, as was the mauve
    skirt of the female figure bending forward on the left.
    Very few pentimenti during the painting process are now
    visible to the naked eye: Christ’s left hand resting on the
    donkey’s back was initially painted slightly higher up; the
    position of the fingers of the woman wearing green and
    the old man wearing blue on the left-hand side were
    shifted slightly.

    The painting is generally in excellent condition, especially
    the figures and the landscape, with only moderate
    abrasion overall and with much of the original freshness
    and vibrancy of the colours preserved. The paint surface
    has been partially cleaned (in the frame?), leaving wide
    bands of discoloured old varnish along the top, left and
    right edges. Abrasion is moderate overall. Coarse
    retouching occurs at the upper left corner, and along the
    left and right edges; discoloured retouches visible
    throughout the sky; only scattered small retouches in the
    figures. The painting underwent conservation treatment
    in 1840, 1861, 1929 and 1987.

    Provenance: Lovisa Ulrika 1760, no. 282; KM 1795,
    no. 171; KM 1804, no. 105; KM 1816, no. 534.

    Bibliography: NM Cat. 1867, p. 32; Sander I, p. 104;
    Göthe 1887, pp. 106–107; Göthe 1893, pp. 130–131;
    Granberg 1911–1913, I, p. 87; Granberg 1929–1931, p.
    167; NM Cat. 1958, p. 92; NM Cat. 1990, p. 169.

    Christ is seated on a donkey in the foreground on the
    right and blesses the multitude as he rides towards
    Jerusalem (Matt. 21:5–10). Just in front of the donkey
    and under its front hoofs, a woman spreads a piece of
    drapery, with a child next to her holding up a palm
    branch; a man in the foreground, on the left, prepares
    to unroll more, being helped by a child to remove his
    cloak for the purpose. A large crowd, holding palm
    branches, walks behind the Saviour. The gates of the
    Holy City can be seen in the background, on the left, a
    crowd of women and men emerging from its gates,
    clamouring to greet their Saviour. The theme of
    “Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem” has long been associated
    with the triumph over death.

    The painting is somewhat atypical of Willem van
    Herp’s oeuvre and especially of his devotional subjects,
    in that it is a fairly large painting on a canvas support
    rather than the usual cabinet-sized picture on copper,
    as were the majority of those of his works intended for
    export to Spain and elsewhere. The plentiful surviving
    work by Van Herp consists to a large extent of copies
    and pastiches after Peter Paul Rubens and other leading
    history painters of his time. In the present painting
    the stance and profile face of Christ were, thus, clearly
    modelled after the figure of the Saviour in Rubens’
    Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem of c. 1631/1632 in Dijon
    (Musée des Beaux-Arts), a predella scene – possibly
    executed with the participation of Erasmus Quellinus
    II – from the altarpiece for the Confraternity of the
    Holy Sacrament in the Church of St.-Rombouts in
    Mechelen.1 Several of the male heads in the crowd
    walking behind Christ, especially the bearded elderly
    men, also resemble those seen in this and other scenes
    from Rubens’ Mechelen altarpiece,2 while the woman
    with raised arms in the group outside the gates of
    Jerusalem, on the left, seems to have been based on
    similar figures in other works by Rubens, such as the
    (lost) Reconciliation of the Romans and Sabines of 1639,
    known through a surviving oil sketch and copies.3 Few
    of Van Herp’s works are dated, making it difficult to
    trace his stylistic development, or to propose a date for
    this painting. However, the artist’s style is quite distinctive,
    his hand being immediately recognizable in
    the expressive, almost mannered, gracefully attenuated
    figures. The paint is loosely applied and as usual the
    figures’ brilliantly coloured garments are animated by
    numerous highlights and shadows. Vlieghe suggested
    that the almost exaggerated expressiveness of Van
    Herp’s figures should perhaps be regarded as his own
    way of coming to terms with the increasing need for
    more emotional depictions of religious and mythological
    1 Oil on wood, 79 x 82 cm, Dijon, Musée des Beaux-Arts, inv. no. 65; for
    which see Judson 2000, pp. 48–49, 55–56 no. 7, fig. 17. Burchard (1963)
    suggested that the Dijon predellas were possibly painted by Rubens and
    retouched by Erasmus Quellinus II, as cited by Judson (pp. 56, 57).
    2 For example, the central scene of The Institution of the Eucharist in Milan,
    Pinacoteca di Brera, or the second predella panel representing Christ
    Washing the Disciples’ Feet in Dijon, Musée des Beaux-Arts; see Judson (as
    above), pp. 48–52 no. 6, and 56–57 no. 8, figs. 11, 18.
    3 See McGrath 1997, pp. 217–220 no. 43 (a painted copy belonging to the
    Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, on loan to the University of
    Barcelona, inv. no. N.Adq. T.1034), and figs. 140, 142. For the Antwerp
    oil sketch (Banque de Paris et des Pays-Bas, Huis Osterrieth), see Held
    1980, I, pp. 379–382 no. 284, II, fig. 284 (“c.1634–1636”).
    4 See Van Puyvelde 1959; Díaz Padrón 1977 and 1978, cited by Vlieghe
    1998, p. 114.[End]