Collection: Allegory of Catholic Faith

ARTIST: Museum Religious Art Classics


Artist: Johannes Vermeer – c. 1670 – 1672

This picture, made at a moment when public celebrations of the Mass were forbidden in the Dutch Republic, draws on the complex language of allegory to depict the triumph of the Catholic Church. A woman, representing the church itself, places one foot atop a globe, while, in the foreground, the cornerstone of the church crushes the serpent of evil. Vermeer converted to Catholicism before his marriage, and this painting, which includes a table laden with chalice, missal, and crucifix, may also refer to the celebration of the Mass in "hidden churches" within private homes. The Crucifixion scene in the background is based on a painting in Vermeer’s collection by the Flemish artist Jacob Jordaens.