Life and Art of Artemisia Gentileschi > Esther before Ahasuerus > Next Painting

Esther before Ahasuerus


Click here for a detailed view of Ester (46K)

c. 1622-1623

Oil on canvas.

2.08m by 2.73

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

The Painting.

Without revealing her ethnicity, Queen Esther pleads with her husband, King Ahasuerus, to spare the Persian Jews. We see her as she swoons from fasting over three days.

X-rays of this highly theatrical work revealed changes in the composition. Ahasuerus, dressed as a stylish dandy á la Caravaggio, originally stood below Esther and a small boy with a barking dog appeared at the foot of the steps.

The Artist's Life.

Artemisia continued to live in Rome for the next eight years when Lorenzo Bernini flourished while adorning St Peter's Basilica. There are references from the time describing Artemisia as a "famous Roman artist", "a celebrated woman painter". Artemisia numbered among her patrons cardinals Francesco and Antonio Barberino, both wealthy and influential prelates.

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