The Denial of Saint Peter

Artist: Caravaggio (Michelangelo Merisi) (Italian, Milan or Caravaggio 1571–1610 Porto Ercole)

Date: ca. 1610

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 37 x 49 3/8 in. (94 x 125.4 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Gift of Herman and Lila Shickman, and Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 1997

Accession Number: 1997.167


Caravaggio’s late works depend for their dramatic effect on brightly lit areas standing in contrast to a dark background. The picture, a marvel of narrative, was painted in the last months of Caravaggio’s tempestuous life and marks an extreme stage in his revolutionary style. Peter is shown before a fireplace, when a woman accuses him of being a follower of Christ. The pointing finger of the soldier and two fingers of the woman allude to the three accusations and to Peter’s three denials. In 1613 the painting belonged to Guido Reni who received it from the engraver Luca Ciamberlano as compensation for debts.