Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Manchester: Tintoretto

TINTORETTO (b. 1518, Venezia, d. 1594, Venezia)
Esther before Ahasuerus
Oil on canvas, 207,4 x 273 cm
Royal Collection, Windsor

Another of the paintings exhibited at Manchester in 1857.

The subject of the picture is taken from the Book of Esther.

Esther, the Jewish queen of the Persian emperor, Ahasuerus, intervenes on behalf of her people in Persia who were threatened with death in a proclamation issued by the chief minister, Haman.

Esther attended the court in regal dress in order to appeal to Ahasuerus. 'But as she was speaking, she fell fainting. And the King was agitated, and all his servants sought to comfort her' (15:7).

Ahasuerus stands on the left at the top of the flight of steps at the foot of which Esther kneels, supported by her entourage. Following this intercession and further deliberation Ahasuerus overrules Haman, who was himself hanged as a consequence of his ill-judged policy.

The story of Esther was often treated as a prefiguration of the role of the Virgin in the Last Judgement.