William Dobson (1611-1646) was one of England’s greatest painters. One of his most extraordinary pictures is in the Walker’s collection, The Executioner with the Head of John the Baptist made between 1640-6.
This dramatic and grisly scene was copied after a painting by Matthias Stom (about 1600 – after 1652), probably made in Rome around 1630-2.
For just the second time since they were made almost 400 years ago, and for the first time ever in Liverpool, these two paintings will be reunited. Generously loaned by the National Gallery in London, Stom’s picture will be displayed alongside Dobson’s copy here at the Walker.
Stom’s painting was brought to England by the 1640s. Rife with religious and political tension, the country was on the brink of civil war. Images like this expressed Catholic tastes and were rare in 17th-century Britain. What is even more unusual is that Dobson, an English painter, copied it – all probably while working at the exiled court of Charles I in Oxford.
We are also showcasing other impressive and unseen 17th-century copies in this display. Join us for this unique chance to see these pictures which explore the relationship between Britain and the rest of Europe during the turbulent 1600s.
The display is a collaboration with the National Gallery Curatorial Traineeship Programme supported by Art Fund with the assistance of the Vivmar Foundation.
Matthias Stom. Salome Receives the Head of John the Baptist. Copyright The National Gallery
William Dobson. The Executioner with the Head of John the Baptist.
John Dean’s mezzotint copy of Dobson’s The Executioner with the Head of John the Baptist.