The National Museum of Art of Romania
Snyders – The Pilgrims at Emmaus
Artwork description
Frans Snyders
(Antwerpen, 1579-1657)
Flemish school
Oil on canvas
123,7 x 114,3 cm
Inv. 9510/1544
Artwork location
European Art Gallery, 2nd floor, room 8

Frans Snyders’ ‘Pilgrims at Emmaus’ is set as a kitchen scene: a young plump servant is sitting at a table on which fruit, vegetable and game are displayed. She smiles to us while emphatically showing the grape she is holding up. In fact she is pointing us to look further into the background, at the inn room where three men are seated at a table. The one in the middle is just blessing the bread, the gesture revealing His identity as Jesus to those with whom He had made the trip from Jerusalem to Emmaus.

The foreground is dominated by all types of food which could be typically encountered at rich men’s tables, from white bread to woodcocks. Such clues are indicative of the social status of those for whom paintings like this one were painted. Early in his career, Snyders had conceived of a complex type of scene in which everyday life is used as a means to convey (or disguise?) deeper religious messages, an approach typical of Flanders in the 17th century.

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