Christ Driving the Money-Changers from the Temple

WAG 1995.88


According to his biographer Raffaele Soprani, Nicolosio Granello came from a village of Pieve di Teco near Genoa, but his precise dates of birth and death are unknown. He was an important figure in the cultural environment of 16th-century Genoa, as a leader of a large group of young painters specialising mainly in fresco decoration. He was commissioned to paint several rooms in the house of Adamo Centurione, a powerful Genoese banker, in the suburbs of Genoa. Granello's frescoes mainly depicted mythological scenes, similar to Roman artists. His knowledge of the Roman style came to him through the wide circulation of engravings, especially of scenes from the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and the decorations of the Farnese Villa in Castel sant'Angelo. Granello also studied the works by Perino del Vaga and Pordenone. Among Genoese artists, he influenced Luca Cambiaso, and yet his name does not appear among the list of Genoese masters at that time. Granello's drawings are characterised by robust figures and dramatic washes, underpining his energetic graphic style. In this drawing, the musculature of the foreground figures is dynamically realised through broad washes in several shades, creating a dramatic chiaroscuro effect on their bodies. The story of Christ driving money changers from the Temple in Jerusalem is told by all four gospels in the New Testament of the Bible. Christ, seen at the top of the steps to the left, travelled to Jerusalem for Passover, where he found merchants and money changers trading in the Temple. He ordered them to leave, accusing them of turning the house of God into a 'den of thieves'. It was a popular subject for Renaissance artists, perhaps most famously in El Greco's (1541 - 1614) painting of 1568, now in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.