As Bloom thinks in Lotus Eaters of the Martha whose letter he has just read and the Mary who has lost the pin of her drawers, a favorite scene of 16th and 17th century painters comes to mind: "Martha, Mary. I saw that picture somewhere I forget now old master or faked for money. He is sitting in their house, talking. Mysterious." The "he" is Christ, and the biblical story has interesting connections to Bloom's situation. It is uncertain which painting he may have seen. One by Rubens hangs in Dublin's National Gallery on Merrion Square, but nothing in it corresponds to Bloom's thoughts. A canvas by Jan Vermeer seems a more likely candidate.

JH 2019

Christ in the House of Martha and Mary, oil on oak boards ca. 1628 by Jan Brueghel the Younger and Peter Paul Rubens, held in the National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Detail from Christ at the Home of Martha and Mary, 1570s oil on canvas by Jacopo Tintoretto held in the Alte Pinakothek, Munich. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Christ in the House of Martha and Mary, oil on canvas ca. 1655 by Jan Vermeer, held in the Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Christ in the House of Martha and Mary, 1605 oil on panel by Alessandro Allori held in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Christ in the House of Martha, early 17th century oil painting attributed to Georg Friedrich Stettner.  Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Christ in the House of Martha and Mary, oil on canvas ca. 1618 by Diego Velásquez held in the National Gallery, London. Source: Wikimedia Commons.