Antonio Gionima (?)
(Venice 1697 – Bologna 1732)

Christ and the Adulteress

Oil on canvas, 144 x 184 cm (57 x 72 inches)

It remains a long-debated mystery. Was it perhaps the list of sins, or that of sinners? We will never know, because not even John reveals what Christ wrote with his finger in the fresh earth (8:1-11). The crowd is present, around the woman caught in adultery, yet they are all silently avoiding our gaze with heads bowed. Was it perhaps a guilty conscience that made them subside into silence, “one by one, beginning with the oldest until the end”? The browns are taken from the palette of the last Crespi, Lo Spagnuolo of Bologna, making known the name of his best student Gionima ever since being found in Zacchia Rondinini’s collection. However there is no certainty in these matters and the attribution of this painting remains unresolved.