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Gallery Text

Scarsellino was born and worked in Ferrara but was strongly influenced by painting in Venice, where he likely trained during the 1570s. Formerly attributed to Jacopo Tintoretto, this work bears many of the hallmarks of sixteenth-century Venetian painting: a rustic outdoor setting, dramatic contrasts of light and dark, rich color, and a loose, gestural style of depicting drapery with “lightning bolt” strokes that index the rapid movements of the brush.

Although the Sea of Galilee gleams placidly in the distance, a gust of wind blows in the foreground, lifting Peter’s cape. According to the book of Matthew, the disciple saw Christ walking on water and tried to swim toward him; frightened by strong winds, he began to drown, until Christ saved him. Three other disciples visibly react to the scene from their fishing boat. As dawn breaks on the horizon, light surrounds Christ’s head like an aureole. The expressive gestures and luminous seascape lend the scene an urgent, ecstatic quality.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Scarsellino (Ippolito Scarsella), Italian (c. 1550 - 1620)
Previously attributed to follower of Jacopo Tintoretto, Italian (Venice, Italy 1519 - 1594 Venice, Italy)
Christ and Saint Peter at the Sea of Galilee
Work Type
c. 1585-1590
Italian, Emilian, Ferrarese
Level 2, Room 2540, European Art, 13th–16th century, The Renaissance
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Physical Descriptions
Oil on canvas
69.2 x 116.2 cm (27 1/4 x 45 3/4 in.)
frame: 126 x 142 x 12 cm (49 5/8 x 55 7/8 x 4 3/4 in.)
[Julius Böhler, Munich]. [Wildenstein & Co., Inc., New York], sold; to Grenville L. Winthrop, New York, 1929, bequest; to Fogg Art Museum, 1943.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Bequest of Grenville L. Winthrop
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art
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Publication History

Erich von der Bercken and August L. Mayer, Jacopo Tintoretto, R. Piper & Co Verlag (Munich, 1923), p. 1, repr.

Erich von der Bercken and August L. Mayer, Jacopo Tintoretto, R. Piper & Co Verlag (Munich, 1923), pp. 6, 141, 197

Hans Tietze, ed., Masterpieces of European Painting in America (London, England, 1939), pp. 98, 314, cat. no. 85, repr. p. 98 [as by Tintoretto]

Rodolfo Pallucchini, La Giovinezza del Tintoretto, ed. Edizioni Daria Guarnati (Milan, 1950), p. 153

Carlo Bernari, L'opera completa del Tintoretto, Rizzoli Editore (Milan, 1970), p. 134, no. C1, repr.

Burton B. Fredericksen and Federico Zeri, Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA, 1972), pp. 184, 199 [as by follower of Jacopo Tintoretto]

Rodolfo Pallucchini and Paola Rossi, Tintoretto: Le opere sacre e profane, Alfieri and Gruppo Editoriale Electa (Venice / Milan, Italy, 1982), p. 242, no. A 19

Edgar Peters Bowron, European Paintings Before 1900 in the Fogg Art Museum: A Summary Catalogue including Paintings in the Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1990)

Ivan Gaskell, "Being True to Rubens", Art, Music, and Spectacle in the Age of Rubens: the Pompa Introitus Ferdinandi, ed. Anna Knaap and Michael Putnam, Harvey Miller Publishers (London, 2013), pp. 241-260, pp. 246-248, repr. p. 248 as fig. 4

Exhibition History

Calming the Tempest with Peter Paul Rubens, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 12/22/2001 - 03/17/2002

32Q: 2540 Renaissance, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Related Works

This record was created from historic documentation and may not have been reviewed by a curator; it may be inaccurate or incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of European and American Art at am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu