Gerrit van Honthorst (Dutch, 1590-1656)
Framed - h:158.40 w:122.50 d:11.80 cm (h:62 5/16 w:48 3/16 d:4 5/8 inches)
Case - h:139.70 w:177.80 d:28.00 cm (h:55 w:70 d:11 inches)
Unframed - h:129.00 w:94.00 cm (h:50 3/4 w:37 inches)
Mr. and Mrs. William H. Marlatt Fund
Samson single-handedly crushed the Philistine army. In turn, the Philistines bribed his lover, Delilah, to reveal Samson’s source of strength: his hair, uncut since birth. While Samson was asleep, Delilah signaled a waiting Philistine, who sheared the hero, rendering him helpless. Honthorst intensified the narrative by having Delilah cut Samson’s hair herself. An old woman also warns us against waking him, which implicates the viewer in Samson’s emasculation. She also activates the space between us and the painting, a common strategy in this era to connect more directly with the viewer.