The Raising of Lazarus

Abraham Bloemaert, 1566 - 1651

The Raising of Lazarus

Abraham Bloemaert 1566 - 1651


Bloemaert depicts a miracle from St John the Gospel (11. 38-45), in which Christ raises Lazarus from the dead. In the bottom left corner, Lazarus's sister, the richly dressed Mary Magdalen, kneels in supplication, while his other sister Martha draws back the veil shielding her from the stench of death to gaze in amazement at the miracle. Bloemaert spent most of his life working in Utrecht, a Catholic enclave in a predominantly Protestant country. The Catholic church was an important patron for him and he is known to have painted at least five works for clandestine churches. The size, format and composition of this painting suggest that it was an altarpiece, but its original location remains unknown. Bloemaert enjoyed a long and successful career as a painter and teacher, and many of the famous painters of the day trained under him. He was one of the principal exponents of Mannerism in Holland: here, the figures are in elegantly affected postures in a restless composition and the glossy costumes, in acidic tones of yellow, green, silver, pink and red, create a sense of glamour at odds with the subject matter. Contrary to High Renaissance practice, the central figure is in deep shadow, which heightens its pallor.

Display Label

Raising of Lazarus about 1610 Abraham Bloemaert 1566-1651 Oil on canvas The subject is taken from the New Testament, John: Chapter 11. Martha and Mary have asked Jesus to visit the grave of their brother, Lazarus, to bring him back to life. Bloemaert was one of the leading Catholic artists in Utrecht, a Catholic stronghold in the Protestant Northern Netherlands. The size, format and composition of this painting suggest it was an altarpiece, but its original location remains unknown. It was likely to have been made for a clandestine, or hidden, Catholic church. These were tolerated by the city’s authorities in the name of religious peace. Bloemaert’s reputation as an accomplished painter and colourist spread far beyond the Dutch Republic. He was much celebrated for his bright lemon yellows, violets and reds, as seen here in the costumes. Purchased 1980.320

Object Name

The Raising of Lazarus

Creators Name

Abraham Bloemaert

Date Created



unframed: 194.2cm x 156.4cm
framed: 220cm x 184cm

accession number


Place of creation





oil paint

On Display

[G14] Manchester Art Gallery - Gallery 14 - TEMPORARILY CLOSED
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Purchased with the assistance of the Victoria & Albert Museum Purchase Grant Fund


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