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Peter Paul Rubens’s Samson and Delilah portrays a tragedy of love and betrayal. Delilah, Samson’s lover, has been bribed to discover the secret of Samson’s supernatural strength. Rubens shows the moment when Delilah tells an accomplice to cut his hair, leaving him powerless. Outside, soldiers wait to capture him.
During a visit to Italy, Rubens had seen Caravaggio’s experiments in the use of highly contrasting light and shade, and deep, rich colour. On his return, he used these new techniques to paint Samson and Delilah, commissioned by his friend and patron, Nicolaas II Rockox, the mayor of Antwerp, for his private collection.
Oil on wood
H 185 x W 205 cm