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This painting depicts an episode in Saint John's Gospel, chapter 5, verses 1–15. The man who has lain long at the pool of Bethesda is reclining in the foreground, a bandage around his head. Jesus stands on a rock to the left, in a maroon tunic with blue drapery. A group of invalids stand behind him and there is an angel in the centre, above the narrative from Saint John. A cartouche at the foot of the painting contains part of the biblical text. The subject was probably chosen to illustrate the work of the hospital. It has long been thought that the sick people in this painting were modelled on hospital patients, but there seems to be no proof of this. The naked woman is said to be modelled on Nell Robinson, a courtesan. The figure of Christ is perhaps copied from Bartolomé Esteban Murillo's ‘Christ Healing the Paralytic at the Pool of Bethesda’, which is now held in the collection of the National Gallery, London.
Christ at the Pool of Bethesda
oil on canvas
H 416 x W 618 cm
presented by the artist, 1737