Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery
Production date
Object number

Grisaille, oil on panel

Signed at lower left: BRUEGEL. M.D.LXV. Inscribed in the centre, near Christ's right hand: DIE SONDER SONDE IS / DIE [He that is without sin (among you), let him...]
34.4 cm x 24.1 cm

"On the steps of the Temple in Jerusalem, Christ is confronted by a group of Jewish judges who ask him if a woman recently condemned for adultery should be stoned to death, as is prescribed by religious law. Agreeing with the sentence would demonstrate a cruelty contrary to Christ’s teachings while disagreeing would expose him to blasphemy. Instead, he kneels and writes in the dust (in Flemish): “He who is without sin, let him [cast the first stone]”. This compelling silent command is enough to disperse the executioners and spare the woman’s life. This scene has been interpreted as a plea for tolerance at a time of political and religious upheaval in the Netherlands. The panel remained in Bruegel’s family until 1626 and was copied multiple times."

The Samuel Courtauld Trust, The Courtauld Gallery, London.

(Text from gallery label)

Other artworks of this artist

The Painter and the Buyer
Desidia (Sloth)
The Descent of Christ into Limbo
The Last Judgment
Big Fish Eat Little Fish
Village Outside the Walls of a Fortress
Landscape with a fortified town
Mountain Landscape with River and Travellers
Bears in a forest
Avaritia (Avarice)
Dulle Griet
Twelve Proverbs
The Magpie on the Gallows
The Gooseherd