This painting illustrates the famous New Testament story of Jesus encountering a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. He asks her for water, and she responds, “How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.”1 The Jews of this time regarded the Samaritans as unclean, and they avoided them. Jesus tells her that if she knew who He was, she would ask Him for a drink, and He would give her living water.
When the Samaritan woman asks how he could have living water, Jesus answers, “Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.”2 The woman asks for this water, and Jesus tells her to call her husband and come back. When she says she isn’t married, Jesus replies that she has had five husbands, and “he whom thou now hast is not thy husband,” to which she says, “Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.”3
Bloch has shown Jesus and the Samaritan woman in the midst of their conversation. Christ sits by the well, shaded by a tree. “He makes a gesture that denotes speech as they converse, and the woman acknowledges His discernment of her circumstances. The intent, yet comfortable, gaze between them speaks of the perfect love of the Savior and His ability to draw others to Him. The woman does not shrink back but leans forward to hear His words. In the background, the disciples are returning from the city where they have purchased food.”4
Bloch’s landscape and clothing choices for this painting, as well as other, was influenced “more by a long-standing Italian tradition of depicting New Testament scenes rather than by the historical and cultural reality of first-century Galilee and Judea.”5
Further reading: “The Life of Christ Painted by Carl Heinrich Bloch”
Further reading: “Lift Up Your Eyes”
- John 4:9
- John 4:13-14
- John 4:15-19
- Dawn C. Pheysey and Richard Neitzel Holzapfel, The Master’s Hand: the Art of Carl Heinrich Bloch (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2010) 83.
- Dawn C. Pheysey and Richard Neitzel Holzapfel, The Master’s Hand: the Art of Carl Heinrich Bloch (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2010) 4-5.