The Erythrean Sybilto(detail)
Maarten van Heemskerck
This panel was originally part of a triptych the other sections of which were probably lost during the Iconoclast Fury -
During the religious riots of 1566, radical Protestants destroyed statues in Catholic churches and monasteries. It began on 10 August in Steenvoorde in West Flanders. Following a sermon by a Calvinist minister, part of the congregation forced its way into the nearby St Lawrence monastery and smashed all the statues. It was the beginning of a wave of destruction which quickly spread across the rest of the country. This was the culmination of a series of events. The repression of church reform had raised tensions to breaking point. Moreover, unemployment and poverty were rife in this period of economic crisis: the seedbed of social unrest. Defacing the churches was justified by the Calvinist belief that statues in a house of God were idolatrous images which must be destroyed.
also: van Heemskerck's Portrait of a Woman