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Theodosius Repulsed from the Church by Saint Ambrose

A work made of oil on canvas.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of oil on canvas.




Alessandro Magnasco
Italian, 1667–1749

About this artwork

This painting depicts a historical event from the year 390 when Ambrose, the archbishop of Milan, refused to give communion to Emperor Theodosius I until he made public penance for the massacre of thousands of innocents after an insurrection. Theodosius, the last emperor to command the entire Roman Empire, eventually submitted to the archbishop’s moral authority.

The brushwork and arrangement of figures in this composition showcase Alessandro Magnasco’s fluid, energetic style. However, for the elaborate background edifice, an imaginary interpretation of the atrium of an early Christian church, he most likely employed an unidentified specialist in architectural painting.


On View, Gallery 215


Painting and Sculpture of Europe


Alessandro Magnasco


Theodosius Repulsed from the Church by Saint Ambrose


Italy (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



Oil on canvas


155.3 × 213.5 cm (61 1/8 × 84 1/16 in.)

Credit Line

Clyde M. Carr Fund

Reference Number


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Extended information about this artwork

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