William Dobson is one of England’s greatest painters. One of his most extraordinary pictures is 'The Executioner with the Head of John the Baptist', made between 1640-6. This grisly scene was copied after a painting by Matthias Stom, probably made in Rome around 1630-2.
For just the second time since they were made about 380 years ago, and for the first time ever in Liverpool, these two paintings are on display together at the Walker Art Gallery.
Stom’s painting, on loan from the National Gallery in London, 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. This display also includes other impressive and unseen 17th-century copies from our collection. Together, they explore the relationship between Britain and the rest of Europe during the turbulent 1600s.
Join the curator of this display, Kate O’Donoghue, for a talk about these unique works and the fascinating stories behind them.
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