Sunday, September 18, 2011

Paintings about the Story of Esther

Dear class,

The paintings shown or linked below are from the Biblical story of Esther. They are part of a literature assignment for our study of the book of Esther.  Write a sentence or two for each of the seven paintings telling some details that you notice.  Two of the paintings are similar, so write an extra two or three sentences comparing them.

The Triumph of Mordecai by Pieter Pietersz Lastman, 1624

The Banquet of Esther and Ahasueras by Jan Victors 1670

Note the similarities between the Jan Victors painting above and the Jan Lievens painting below, which is from 1625. Jan Lievens painted at about the same time as Rembrandt (whose painting "Haman Begging Esther for Mercy" is linked below) -- and this painting by Lievens was thought to have been painted by Rembrandt until this past century. I found it an article in the Smithsonian Magazine March 2009 issue, which you can read on-line here: Out of Rembrandt's Shadow by Matthew Gurewitsch.  As I mentioned in class, the clothing in these paintings is not from Biblical times, but 17th century European styles.

The Feast of Esther by Jan Lievens c. 1625

The Death of Haman, unknown artist, 1372

There are three more paintings, one by Rembrandt and two by Marc Chagall, that I can't copy into this blog post. Right click on the links below and open new windows to see the pictures. 

Link for Rembrandt: Haman Begging Esther for Mercy

Marc Chagall
Links for the Chagall paintings...

Ahasueras Sends Vashti Away by Marc Chagall, 1960

Esther by Marc Chagall, 1960 

Note: The artist Marc Chagall was a Russian born Jew who settled in France. During the 1940's, an American diplomat named Hiram Bingham IV (also known as Harry) persuaded Chagall to flee France, giving him an unauthorized visa, as he did for hundreds of others. So Chagall could certainly relate to the story of Esther rescuing the Jews. Chagall wrote: "Ever since my earliest youth I have been fascinated by the Bible. I have always believed that it is the greatest source of poetry of all time...The Bible is an echo of nature, and this I have endeavoured to transmit.... In art everything is possible, so long as it is based on love." 

You can read more about the story of Hiram Bingham IV and the 2,500 European Jews he rescued in the Smithsonian Magazine here: Bingham's List: Saving the Jews of Nazi France.
Though he was fired as a diplomat for issuing unauthorized visas, he was later honored for his courage with a U.S. postage stamp.

In class, I also played an audio recording of a story I told about Esther Ahn Kim, a Korean lady.  During the same time period that Bingham was rescuing Jews, Esther was in prison for refusing to bow to Japanese idols.  If you would like to listen to it again, here it is...

As you start working on the setting and characters for your story based on Proverbs, remember some of the details I told about settings and characters in the stories about Hiram Bingham IV and Esther Ahn Kim.

Most of all, remember that you are here "for such as time as this"!  

If you would like to read a poem with this theme of God using your unique experiences for his purposes, click here: This Is My Song and I Sing.

God bless you this week and always!
Mrs. Knowles

Paintings about the Story of Daniel

These six drawings and paintings are from the Biblical story of Daniel. 

Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, Selects Several Youths to Learn Babylonian Ways by Stemler

Daniel Refuses to Eat the King's Delicacies The illustration is found in "Standard Bible Story Readers, Book Three and Four" by Lillie A. Faris, published by The Standard Publishing Company, 1926 and 1927, and illustrated by O. A. Stemler and Bess Bruce Cleaveland.

The Fourth One Looks Like a God by Annie Vallotton (from the Good News Bible)

Belshazzar's Feast by Rembrandt, 1635 National Gallery, London

Daniel in the Lion's Den by Peter Paul Rubens, National Gallery of Art

The Vision of the Four Beasts from Daniel by Stephanus Garsias Placidus 11th Century