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Double vision as Walker Art Gallery reunites two 17th century paintings

No, you’re not seeing double.

The Walker Art Gallery has unveiled a new temporary acquisition which looks very much like one of its the paintings from its own collection.

But there are, apparently, subtle differences between Salome receives the Head of John the Baptist – on loan from the National Gallery – and the William Brown Street’s own The Executioner with the Head of John the Baptist.

The former was painted by Matthias Stom between 1630-32, while the Walker’s painting, by William Dobson, dates from 1640-46 and was painted from direct observation while Dobson was probably working in the court of Charles I in the period leading up to and during the English Civil War.

This is the first time in a generation the two paintings have been reunited, and they will be on display together until June 16.

Stom was a Dutch painter who worked mostly in Rome, while portrait artist Dobson – the son of a London lawyer - is considered to be one of the great early English painters.

He captured on canvas many of the leading Cavaliers, including Prince Rupert, and also painted the future Charles II as a 12-year-old.

Photo by Gareth Jones

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