Market Scene with Christ and the Adulteress, Pieter Aertsen
Pieter Aertsen
Market Scene with Christ and the Adulteress
Back to top

Pieter Aertsen

Market Scene with Christ and the Adulteress, 1559

122.5 x 180.5 x min. 0.6 cm
maximum depth
0.7 cm
Physical Description
Mixed technique on oak
Inventory Number
Acquired in 1904 as a gift from the Karl Nikolaus Berg heirs
Not on display


About the Work

The market scene is an important stage in the development of Dutch still-life and genre painting. The ‘Christ and the Adulteress’ group in the middle ground is easy to overlook. Yet it provides the key to the painting’s purport – a caution against the world’s sensual dangers. Since the Dutch and German verb ‘vögeln’ (literally ‘to bird’ – the term was originally used to describe a rooster mating with a hen) alluded as much to the sex act then as it does now, the same is implied by the various birds among the wares. The market women gaze boldly out at the viewer in what contemporaries would have understood as a further allusion to shamelessness and erotic desire.

About the Acquisition

The lawyer Karl Nikolaus Berg (1826–1887) was mayor of Frankfurt from 1868 to 1880. During his term of office he worked successfully for conciliation and adaptation to the new circumstances after Prussia’s annexation of the Free City of Frankfurt. Major achievements of his years as mayor included the rebuilding of the cathedral and numerous new construction projects – from the Eiserne Steg and the Kleinmarkthalle to the Opera House. This painting was donated to the Städel by his heirs in 1904.

Audio & Video

  • Basic information
  • Focus on religion
  • Gastkommentar: Sexualdelikte in der Kunst mit Strafrechtlerin Tatjana Hörnle
    Triggerwarnung: In diesem Video geht es um sexualisierte Gewalt. . Was sieht eine Strafrechtlerin in den Kunstwerken der Städel Sammlung? In diesem Gastkommentar eröffnet Tatjana Hörnle (Direktorin am Max-Planck-Institut zur Erforschung von Kriminalität, Sicherheit und Recht) ihre individuelle Sichtweise auf die Kunstwerke im Städel Museum. Sie schaut sich Pieter Aertsens „Marktstück mit Christus und der Ehebrecherin“ (1559), Max Slevogts „Frau Aventiure“ (1894) und Max Liebermanns „Simson und Delia“ (1902) an.

Work Data

Basic Information

Market Scene with Christ and the Adulteress
Period Produced
Object Type
Physical Description
Mixed technique on oak
Label at the Time of Manufacture
Monogrammiert und signiert links auf dem Fass: PA 1559 (zwischen P und A ein Dreizack)

Property and Acquisition

Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
Picture Copyright
Public Domain
Acquired in 1904 as a gift from the Karl Nikolaus Berg heirs

Work Content

Motifs and References

Main Motif
Persons Shown
Associated Persons and Institutions
Illustrated Passage
  • Bibel, Neues Testament, Johannes 8,3-8


  • 73C72221 Christ points to or writes on the ground
  • 46B11 market
  • 46B21 merchant, salesman
  • 46BB21 merchant, salesman - BB - women engaged in trade and commerce
  • 41C65 vegetables and fruit; still life of vegetables and fruit
  • 41C621 bread, loaf
  • 41C64 dairy products and eggs
  • 25F6 fishes
  • 34B232 fowl (cock, hen, chicken, etc.)
  • 47I2113 calf
  • 41A7751 container made of plant material other than wood: basket
  • 41A773 container of ceramics: jar, jug, pot, vase
  • 41A775 wooden container: barrel, cask
  • 25I153 obelisk, needle
  • 12B61 temple, shrine ~ non-Christian religions

More to discover



Do you have any suggestions, questions or information about this work?

Last update