St Paul and Silas in Prison

Michael Václav Halbax

Michael Václav Halbax - St Paul and Silas in Prison
The theme is based on the New Testament text of Acts of the Apostles (16, 16-26) - in their sermons, Paul and his companion Silas disseminated the Christian creed in Macedonia and they were flogged and imprisoned for it. However, there was a sudden earthquake, the doors of the prison opened and fetters fell off the prisoners’ limbs. Paul and Silas did not flee and thus saved the life of the gaoler. Moved by their act, he and his family converted to Christianity. Halbax captured the moment, when the gaoler received the new faith with his hand on his breast. The painter obviously attempted a psychological depiction of the figures, even with their gestures, which however do not impress as convincing. The compositional arrangement of the scene points to Halbax’s awareness of Caravaggio’s painting, including the use of contrasting chiaroscuro, and the figure of gaoler dressed in an archaic costume. There probably existed a pendant with the subject of Joseph of Egypt in jail.
measurements: height 138 cm
width 166,5 cm
material: canvas
technique: oil
inventory number: O 2303
gallery collection: Collection of Old Masters