|Title||Christ Walking on Water|
|Collection||Portsmouth City Museum and Records Office|
|Artist||Attributed to Bril, Paul (Flemish landscapist and fresco painter, 1554-1626, active in Rome)|
Paul Bril (1553/4-1626) studied in his native Antwerp. Around 1575 he followed his brother Matthijs Bril (1550-1583) to Rome where they collaborated on several monumental fresco cycles. Paul Bril began painting small landscapes on panel and copper during the 1590s. These works gained him considerable success. The earliest of them are characterised by strong contrasts of form such as cliffs and plains, and by sharply divided areas of light and shade that create dramatic motion. After about 1605 the style of Bril's works tends towards a calmer, more classicising mode, perhaps influenced by Annibale Carracci, with whom Bril collaborated. In these later works light is treated more subtly, horizons tend to be low and the transition from foreground to background rendered gently; his religious and mythological subjects are usually accompanied by pastoral or bucolic figures and settings, instead of the tempestuous scenery of his earlier works.
The Portsmouth painting is a fine example of Bril's small landscapes. It probably dates from c. 1600-10 when the artist's style was in transition. In the foreground of the painting, the figure of Christ, dressed in red and blue, walking across the sea of Galilee, and that of Peter, who has walked over the water from the fishing boat, where the other apostles are visible beyond, and who Christ reaches out to help, are possibly by Carracci. The scene is enclosed on the left by dark, high cliffs surmounted by a castle tower below which on a grassy plateau a shepherd tends his flock. To the right the dramatic coastline gives way to a view across the sea with a distant sun-lit promontory built up with houses and towers.
|Current Accession Number||249/1981|
|Subject||landscape; religion (Christ Walking on Water)|
|Measurements||21.0 x 26.3 cm cm (estimate)|
|Material||oil on metal (copper)|
|Acquisition Details||Bequeathed by Miss Eleanor M. Spyers, 1966.|
|Provenance||In possession of the Spyers family since c. 1750; bequeathed by Miss Eleanor M. Spyers, 20 January 1966, to Portsmouth Corporation, by whom entrusted for safe keeping to the Portsmouth Museum and Art Gallery.|
|Principal Exhibitions||Dutch Paintings Exhibition, Southampton City Art Gallery, 29 November 1976 - 9 January 1977, no catalogue.|
|Publications||Alse, Joan, The Art Galleries of Britain and Ireland: A Guide to their Collections, Sidgewick & Jackson, 1975, p. 203; Wright, Christopher, Old Master Paintings in Britain, London, 1976; Concise Catalogue 1: Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, Portsmouth City Museums Art Department, 1981, as by Bril.|
|Notes||An old label on the reverse of the picture reads: 'Anibale Caracci often painted the figures in his [Bril's] landscapes and may have done so in this case. When this picture was cleaned and revarnished in 1954 the signature P.B. was revealed in the lower right hand corner and was lost again to view under the new varnish.' It is signed: 'EM Spyers / 3 Weston Road / Petersfield, May 1957'.|
|Rights Owner||Portsmouth City Museum and Records Office|