St. Dominic and the Devil

Pietro della Vecchia (Italian, 1603-1678)

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The story of the Devil's appearance to St. Dominic in the form of a monkey derives from a medieval legend, according to which the saint seized his tormentor and forced him to hold a lighted candle while he studied. St. Dominic released him only after the candle burned down and singed his fingers.

This candle-illuminated scene is inspired by a famous lost masterpiece of antiquity. Antiphilus of Alexandria's Boy Blowing on a Fire was renowned for its beautifully rendered effects of firelight. Pietro della Vecchia's painting makes deliberate reference to it and to his own celebrated ability to imitate earlier masters.

Provenance research is on-going at the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields. Please contact Annette Schlagenhauff, Curator of European Art, at if you have questions, or if you have additional information to share with us.

Object Information

Pietro della Vecchia (Italian, 1603-1678)
creation date
about 1630
oil on canvas
27-1/16 x 40-1/8 in.
approximately 32-1/2 x 45-1/2 x 2-1/4 in. (framed)
accession number
credit line
James E. Roberts Fund
Public Domain
European Painting and Sculpture Before 1800

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