Skip to Content
Alessandro Magnasco, Seascape with the Death of Ananias and Sapphira
Biblical - Historical - Mythologic
Material and technique
oil on canvas
68 x 72 cm
Alessandro Zuccari
The subject of this dramatic painting, often interpreted as depicting the fall of Simon Magus, describes the episode from the Acts of the Apostles in which Ananias and his wife Sapphira are punished with death for defrauding the apostles. More precisely, this is the moment when Sapphira, having repeated her husband’s lie, ‘immediately collapses at the feet of Peter and dies’ (Acts 5, 10). On the right-hand side of the painting, under a group of imposing and evocative ruins, Sapphira lies on the ground, breathing her last. Peter the Apostle, distinguishable by his halo and aged appearance, holds a book and raises his right hand in sign of final admonishment. All around, bystanders in contorted poses look on in astonishment, while two muscular porters prepare to remove the body.
The canvas was intended as a companion to Coastal View with the Calling of Saint Peter.  An interesting aspect is the artist’s decision to fill the left side of the canvas with a jagged shoreline bathed in light. This is based on similar seventeenth-century works by Salvator Rosa and Filippo Napoletano which Magnasco had admired during his stay in Florence from 1703 to 1711 while he was in the service of the Grand Duke Gian Giacomo de’ Medici.
Seascape with the Death of Ananias and Sapphira
Related Themes