Christ in the House of Martha and Mary

Diego Velasquez

Christ in the House of Martha and Mary

[In his gospel, Luke describes Jesus’ visit to the house of Martha and Mary (Mary of Bethany, not Mary Magdalene). Mary sits at Jesus’ feet and listens to him speak. Her sister, Martha, on the other hand, goes to “make all the preparations that had to be made”. Upset that Mary did not help her, Martha complains to Jesus, to which he responds: “Martha, Martha, … you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38–42]

[Here, Velasquez depicts Luke’s story in a painting on the kitchen’s back wall, and in the foreground,  shows a maid who is frustrated, if not bitter, about her hard work.  The older woman, perhaps her boss, points to the biblical scene, reminding the maid of Jesus’ somewhat unsympathetic message to the hardworking Martha in Luke’s story.]

Diego Velasquez, 1618.  Oil on canvas.

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