Dutch, Golden Age
This rarely depicted Old Testament scene shows the power and perseverance of women. When Bathsheba learned of a preemptive grasp for the throne, she convinces David to name their son Solomon as the future king of Israel, even though he was not the first in line. Known for her beauty, Bathsheba is usually depicted as an object of desire at her bath. The artist upends longstanding stereotypes by presenting the biblical heroine’s intelligence and strength in persuading the king to select the next ruler on the qualities of his character, rather than the traditional order of succession.
Previously considered Queen Esther before Ahasuerus, the painting was recently amended as Bathsheba due to the presence of the younger woman standing nearby. The figure represents Abishag, the king’s female servant who took care of him in his old age.