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Lambert Sustris, The Queen of Sheba before King Solomon

Key facts
Full title The Queen of Sheba before King Solomon
Artist Lambert Sustris
Artist dates about 1515/20 - about 1570
Date made about 1540-55
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 80 × 187.3 cm
Acquisition credit Layard Bequest, 1916
Inventory number NG3107
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
The Queen of Sheba before King Solomon
Lambert Sustris

Solomon was an Old Testament King of Israel known for his great wisdom. The Queen of Sheba came to Jerusalem from South Arabia to test Solomon’s wisdom for herself (1 Kings 10: 1–13). She was accompanied by a great retinue bearing spices, gold and precious stones.

She kneels in reverence before King Solomon who is seated on his throne beneath a red and gold canopy. Two ladies hold the Queen’s cloak while others present golden jars and bowls of spices brought as gifts from the east. The paint has become translucent over time, making it difficult to see what is happening in some parts of the picture, particularly among the Queen’s ladies.

The painting’s long narrow shape indicates that it was made to decorate a piece of furniture. It may have been one of a series of paintings for an organ case or a piece of bedroom furniture.

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