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Samson and Delilah
Peter Paul Rubens

Samson, the Jewish hero, fell in love with Delilah. She was bribed by the Philistines, and discovered that his strength came from his hair which had never been cut. While he was asleep it was cut, Samson was drained of his strength and the Philistines were able to capture him. (Old Testament, Judges 16: 17-20). Rubens depicts a candlelit interior; the Philistines wait at the door, one of their number cuts Samson's hair, while an elderly woman provides extra light. In a niche behind is a statue of the goddess of love, Venus, with Cupid - a reference to the cause of Samson's fate.

This painting was commissioned by Nicolaas Rockox, alderman of Antwerp, for his town house in 1609-10. It shows the influence of the antique, as well as Michelangelo and Caravaggio. There is a preparatory drawing (private collection, Amsterdam) and a modello (Cincinnati Museum of Art).

Key facts
Artist Peter Paul Rubens
Artist dates 1577 - 1640
Full title Samson and Delilah
Date made about 1609-10
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 185 x 205 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1980
Inventory number NG6461
Location in Gallery Room 18
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