Daniel in the Lions' Den

Peter Paul Rubens, Daniel in the Lions’ Den, circa 1614. Oil on canvas. National Gallery of Art, Washington.

Rubens imagines Daniel and the lions as the Persian king Darius would have found them when he opened the den after shutting Daniel in with the lions overnight. Highlighted by a shaft of light, Daniel is positioned off center in a classical baroque composition. Daniel is portrayed in an attitude of prayer, thanking God for protecting him. The lions move lazily around Daniel, without a hint of threat or attack. Placing the lions in the foreground emphasizes their size and power, in contrast to the smaller, statue-like, pale image of Daniel. The only bright colors in the painting are the red robe of Daniel and the glimpse of sky over Daniel’s head, emphasizing the darkness of the den. 

Daniel in the Lions’ Den

The king of the Persian Achaemenid Empire at its peak, from 550-486 B.C.E. His decree to continue the rebuilding of the Temple appears in Ezra 6.

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