• Esther Before Ahasuerus

    Artist:
    Poussin, Nicolas. 1594-1665
    Technique:
    oil
    Dimensions:
    119x155,7 cm

Poussin, Nicolas. 1594-1665

Esther Before Ahasuerus

France, mid-1650s

The artist borrowed the subject of this painting from the Old Testament, which recounts the story of Queen Esther, the wife of the Persian King Ahasuerus (Xerxes), who appeared before the King to beg mercy for her fellow-tribesmen and -women - the Jews living in the Persian state. By coming into the royal private rooms unasked, she broke the rules of the court, which was customarily punished by death. In the late period of Poussin's career his paintings became compositionally simple, but the outward balance and tranquility conceal tension and drama. Compositionally the painting is divided into two parts: on the right there is Ahasuerus and his advisers; on the left Esther and her maidservants are depicted. The solemn grandeur of alternating columns and niches, which contain statues in the background, sets the rhythm for the whole scene, but this strict order is disrupted by the group of maidservants, supporting Esther as her emotions cause her to faint. Ahasuerus's clothing is devoid of the adornments befitting a king, but the intense red of the cloak makes it seem a sumptuous outfit.

Title:

Esther Before Ahasuerus

Place:

Date:

Material:

Technique:

oil

Dimensions:

119x155,7 cm

Acquisition date:

Entered the Hermitage between 1763 and 1774; formerly in the collection of Catherine the Great

Inventory Number:

ГЭ-1755

Category:

Collection: