Long attributed to the northern Italian artist Antonio Balestra, this work was recently identified as a painting by Ludovico Dorigny, a Frenchman from a distinguished Parisian artist family who was active in Venice and Verona. As a young man, Dorigny produced works for King Louis XIV and for Cardinal Richelieu. In Italy, he was also a sought-after decorative painter. The Acts of the Apostles relate the story of Peter’s imprisonment by Herod, who at the time persecuted the leadership of the nascent Christian Church. During the night before his public prosecution, an angel appeared to Peter, “and a light shone in the cell, and he … woke him, saying, ‘Get up quickly.’ And the chains fell off his hands.” In his right hand, Peter holds the keys that symbolize the power to bind or loosen souls.
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