The Festival of Esther

Edward Armitage, The Festival of Esther, 1865.

In The Festival of Esther, Armitage depicts the scene from the Book of Esther when King Ahasuerus returns to the room and thinks the evil Haman is assaulting the queen rather than imploring her. Queen Esther recoils from the pleading Haman, Ahasuerus stands above them ordering his minister’s death, and Esther's foster father Mordecai looks down at his defeated enemy from the right of the frame.

Armitage used authentic artifacts in his paintings. The carved reliefs that form the backdrop, as well as the statue to the extreme left of the composition, are taken from actual Assyrian artifacts unearthed from the palace at Nimrud, dating to the ninth century B.C.E. When Armitage painted The Festival of Esther, these discoveries had just entered the British Museum, where they are still on view today.


Edward Armitage, The Festival of Esther, 1865.

Genuine; historically accurate.

An Assyrian city located on the upper Tigris River, known as Kalhu in Assyiran and Calah in the Hebrew Bible. Nimrud was the capital of the Neo-Assyiran empire for much of the ninth and eighth centuries B.C.E., and its palaces have yielded stunning archaeological artifacts.

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