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Troyen, Rombout van
Fantasy Grotto with a Fountain, Sculptures and a Scene of Martyrdom Fantasy Grotto with a Fountain, Sculptures and a Scene of Martyrdom
around 1645-1650 around 1645-1650

This tiny panel is a manifestation of the artist’s grotto scene formula, which generally incorporates dark cavernous spaces, classical architecture with fantastical embellishments, pagan shrines and small-scale figures. Light streams in from the left, casting in darkness a narrow, vertical strip of cave wall at the left edge, but illuminating a column and an ornately carved surface just to the right. The centre of the composition opens onto an empty, barrel-vaulted space that recedes into inky darkness. On the opposite side are a fountain spewing water out of a grotesque head and a shrine set with a rounded glass, or mirror, surmounted by an arched niche containing a statue. This setting is consistent with the dramatic scene taking place at the lower left. In the shadow of the wall an armoured soldier with a drawn sword stands over an old man in a hooded robe, who is lying on the ground. This figure, already struck and bleeding, appears to be pleading for his life. The cross and rosary nearby identify him as a Christian hermit or saint. Behind this pair, a young woman, who has evidently also been attacked, sits leaning against the column and gazing upward. A second woman crouches down and reaches out to assist her. These figures do not correspond to any recorded martyrdom but are probably intended to portray an anonymous scene of early Christians being persecuted in the catacombs beneath the city of Rome. That this is the setting seems to be underscored by the skull and bones lying at the feet of the statue in the niche, which suggest a place of burial.

 
Troyen, Rombout van
Amsterdam, Netherlands c. 1605-Amsterdam, Netherlands c. 1650 Amsterdam, Netherlands c. 1605-Amsterdam, Netherlands c. 1650
Fantasy Grotto with a Fountain, Sculptures and a Scene of Martyrdom Fantasy Grotto with a Fountain, Sculptures and a Scene of Martyrdom
around 1645-1650 around 1645-1650
Oil on panel Oil on panel
height / width: 20.50 x 27.20 cm; 8.07 x 10.71 in.
Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Alfred Bader through the Friends of Queen's, 1977 Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Alfred Bader through the Friends of Queen's, 1977
20-091

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