Groeningemuseum, Bruges, Belgium

The Flaying of the Corrupt Judge Sisamnes (1498-99) – Gérard David

Went to Bruges yesterday and visited the Groeningemuseum which houses Bruges’s collection of Flemish Primitives. The primary attraction was Bosch’s triptych of The Last Judgement. The most vivid memory of my (short) visit was Gérard David’s gruesome painting of The Flaying of the Corrupt Judge Sisamnes (1498-99).

According to Herodotos, Sisamnes was a corrupt judge under Cambyses II of Persia. He accepted a bribe and delivered an unjust verdict. As a result, the king had him arrested and flayed alive. His skin was then used to cover the seat in which his son would sit in judgement. Sisamnes was the subject of two paintings by Gerard David, “The Arrestation of Sisamnes” and “Flaying of Sisamnes” both done in 1498. Together they make up the Cambyses diptych. — [Sept 2006]

A similarly themed painting is Apollo Flaying Marsyas (1637) – Jusepe de Ribera

See also: art horrorFlemish Primitives1400s