Van der Stock is a little-known perspective painter, whose paintings must go hidden under attributions to better-known colleagues, especially to Hendrick van Steenwijck II, whom our painting was attributed to in the past.
Saint Peter was imprisoned by King Herod, but during the night before his trial, where he would have been sentenced to death, he was miraculously liberated by an angel.
About Pieter Willemsz. van der Stock
1592/93 – after 1650
Rare painter of architectural interior subjects.
Also known as the Monogrammist P.W.
Active in Amsterdam.
A painting from 1636 (sold at Christie’s New York 31/10/97) is his only dated work known.
Van der Stock went bankrupt in 1651; the inventory of his home drawn up for that reason included a number of perspectives, notably church interiors and some smaller landscapes (that must all have been painted by him).
Stylistically he stands close to Dirck van Delen (Heusden circa 1604/05 – 1671 Arnemuiden), Bartholomeus van Bassen (possibly born in Antwerp circa 1590 – 1652 The Hague) and Hendrick van Steenwijck II (Antwerp 1580 – before May 8th 1640 Leiden or The Hague). Some of his paintings must go hidden under erroneous attributions to either one of these three masters.
Bredius discovered that van der Stock was also active as a brick-layer;
he was a member of the Amsterdam guild of stone masons both in 1617 and in 1638.
Our painter was a good painter of refined interior scenes. He must have regularly worked together with staffage painters from Amsterdam, such as Willem Duyster and Hendrick Pot.
About the subject of our painting
In the Bible, New Testament, Acts of the Apostles, chapter 12, a short text (12:5-19) describes the miraculous liberation of Saint Peter from prison by an angel.
After he had the Apostle James beheaded, King Herod Agrippa (the last Judean king from the Herodian dynasty that was installed by the Romans) had Peter arrested.
The night before he would go onto trial an angel came to Peter and miraculously rescued him: all guards (four groups of four soldiers) laid asleep, Peter’s chains fell off his hands and all gates opened. The angel and Peter walked out of the prison. The next day Herod’s soldiers searched in vain for Saint Peter. Herod had all guards put to death.
About our painting
Our painting was in the past thought to have been painted by Hendrick van Steenwijck II (Antwerp 1580 – before May 8th 1640 Leiden or The Hague), who indeed often painted the Liberation of Peter, in fact at least 70 times (either painted by the master himself or by his studio).
Typical of van der Stock is the way he makes a very frontal composition, using the colourful pavements for his perspective construction.
The angel appeared in a bright light that illuminates the right part of the painting with a porch-like Renaissance construction. The right part of the Roman prison is much more mysterious with its intricate coloured floor tiles and partly lit columns.
The painter has cleverly broken the monotony of perspective painting through the use of different floor levels and of partly visible stairs at right. His staffage painter has enforced this effect by adding a few huge spears that rest against the walls.
The solidity of the prison makes the miracle even more incredible.
Why should you buy this painting?
Because van der Stock treated this challenging biblical subject with a combined mastery of perspective, religious mystery and silence.