Skip to main content
Esther before Ahasuerus
Sebastiano Ricci
/

In this painting we see Esther, the Jewish heroine of the Old Testament, presenting herself to Ahasuerus, King of Persia, in an attempt to save the Jewish population of Persia, who he had condemned to death. In doing so, she risked her life: approaching the King without his permission was punishable by death.

Ahasuerus points his golden sceptre towards Esther, a sign that she can speak. As he does so, however, she faints; her attendants rush to support her. The figure at the lower right may be the king’s advisor Haman, who had encouraged him to carry out the massacre. Ahasuerus ultimately accepted Esther’s plea, saving the Jewish community.

The loose handling of the paint and the small scale suggest that this was a preliminary sketch for a larger work, although no such finished painting is known. It was probably painted towards the end of Ricci’s career and shortly before his death in 1734.

Key facts
Artist Sebastiano Ricci
Artist dates 1659 - 1734
Full title Esther before Ahasuerus
Date made probably 1730-4
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 47 x 33 cm
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by the Misses Cohen as part of the John Samuel collection, 1906
Inventory number NG2101
Location in Gallery Gallery A: Paintings after 1600
Download image
Download low-resolution image

Download an 800px wide, 72dpi copy of this image.

License this image

License and download a high resolution image for reproductions up to A3 size from the National Gallery Picture Library.

License image
Download low resolution image

This image is licensed for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons agreement.

Examples of non-commercial use are:

  • Research, private study, or for internal circulation within an educational organisation (such as a school, college or university)
  • Non-profit publications, personal websites, blogs, and social media

The image file is 800 pixels on the longest side.

As a charity, we depend upon the generosity of individuals to ensure the collection continues to engage and inspire. Help keep us free by making a donation today.

Yes, I'd like to donate
Or
Download low resolution image

You must agree to the Creative Commons terms and conditions to download this image.

Creative Commons Logo