The Banquet of Ahasuerus

Object Details


The Banquet of Ahasuerus


Aert de Gelder (Dutch, 1645 - 1727)






Oil on canvas

Object Number:



114.3 × 142.2 cm (45 × 56 in.)

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Somewhat disheveled, his eyes bleary from drink, King Ahasuerus leans heavily on his left forearm, spilling wine onto his lap from the goblet he holds. This painting shows a scene from the biblical Book of Esther, when, after seven days of feasting and drinking, King Ahasuerus drunkenly asks one of his eunuchs to summon the beautiful Queen Vashti. She refuses to appear, angering Ahasuerus and prompting him to dismiss her and choose Esther as his wife.

Aert de Gelder places the characters against a neutral background and minimizes the action so that the focus is on the interaction between the two figures. Light falls from the left, highlighting the King's flushed face, extravagant clothing, and large frame. The dimly lit figure of the eunuch, modestly dressed, small in stature, and desexed, contrasts with the king's excessive appetites.

- 1816

Jacob van Strij, Dutch, 1756 - 1815 (Dordrecht, The Netherlands) [sold, Santheuvel and Strij sale, A. M. de Hart, Dordrecht, April 24, 1816, lot 21, to Lambert Jan Nieuwenhuys.]

- 1816

or Pieter van den Santheuvel, 1732 - 1799 (Dordrecht, The Netherlands) [sold, Santheuvel and Strij sale, A. H. de Hart, Dordrecht, April 24, 1816, lot 21, to Lambert Jan Nieuwenhuys.]
Source: De Hart auction catalogue, sale of property owned by van Strij and van den Santheuvel in Dordrecht on 24 April 1816.

1816 -

Lambert Jan van Nieuwenhuys (Brussels, Belgium)
Source: Annotated copy of de Hart sales catalogue in Frick collection.

- by 1930

Private Collection (France), sold to Jacques Goudstikker, by 1930.
Source: Described as coming from a "Collection particulière française" in Goudstikker catalogue.

by 1930 -

Jacques Goudstikker, 1897 - 1940 (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
Source: Goudstikker catalogue, 1930, and seal on reverse.


A. J. M. Lips (Dordrecht, The Netherlands)
Source: Listed as provenance in Sotheby's sale, 11 July 1973 and in Metropolitan exhibition catalogue, 1975.

by 1952 -

Dr. Hans Wetzlar (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
Source: Listed as lender to Delft exhibition, 1952.

by 1956 -

David M. Koetser Gallery (New York, NY)
Source: Listed as lender to Raleigh exhibition, 1956.

by 1968 -

Hallsborough Gallery (London, England)
Source: Handwritten note on Witt Library card.

by 1969

Julius H. Weitzner, 1896 - 1986 (London, U.K.)
Source: Listed as owner (in London) by Van Fossen, 1969.

- 1973

Private Collection [sold, Sotheby's, London, July 11, 1973, lot 72.]

by 1974 - 1979

Gebroeders Douwes (Amsterdam, The Netherlands), sold share to Robert Noortman Gallery, 1979.
Source: Listed as lender to Metropolitan exhibition, 1975.


and Robert Noortman Gallery (London, England), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1979.

Meesterwerken uit vier eeuwen 1400 - 1800 (June 25 to October 15, 1938)
  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (Rotterdam), June 25 to October 15, 1938
Prisma der Bijbelse kunst (May 17 to August 12, 1952)
  • Stedelijk Museum Het Prinsenhof (Delft), May 17 to August 12, 1952
Rembrandt and His Pupils (November 16 to December 30, 1956)
  • North Carolina Museum of Art (Raleigh), November 16 to December 30, 1956
The Grand Gallery at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (October 19, 1974 to January 5, 1975)
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), October 19, 1974 to January 5, 1975
A Selection of Important Paintings by Old and Modern Masters from our 1980 Collection (1980)
  • Robert Noortman Gallery (London), 1980
Gods, Saints, and Heroes: Dutch Painting in the Age of Rembrandt (November 2, 1980 to July 19, 1981)
  • National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.), November 2, 1980 to January 4, 1981

A. H. de Hart, Dordrecht. Catalogus van Schilderijn, Teekeningen en Prenten. April 24, 1816, p. 5, lot 21.

Lilienfeld, Karl. Arent de Gelder: Sein Leben und seine Kunst (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1914), p. 128, no. 6.

Goudstikker, J. Catalogue des Nouvelles Acquisitions de la Collection Goudstikker (Amsterdam: n. p., 1930), unpaginated, no. 17, ill.

Meesterwerken uit vier eeuwen 1400-1800: Tentoonstelling van schilderijen en teekeningen uit particuliere verzamelingen in Nederland, exh. cat. (Rotterdam: Museum Boymans, 1938), vol. 1, p. 20, no. 73; vol. 2, p. 95, no. 146, ill.

Berendsen, Anne. Prisma der bijbelse kunst, exh. cat. (Delft: Prinsenhof, 1952), p. 84, no. 91.

Grigaut, Paul L. "Rembrandt and His Pupils in North Carolina." The Art Quarterly 19, no. 4 (1956), p. 411, fig. 4.

Valentiner, Wilhelm R., ed. Rembrandt and his Pupils: A Loan Exhibition, exh. cat. (Raleigh: North Carolina Museum of Art, 1956), p. 119, no. 44, ill.

Fossen, David Raymond van. "The Paintings of Aert de Gelder." Ph.D. diss. (Harvard University, 1969), vol. 1, pp. 104-6, 245-46, no. 36, fig. 37.

Sotheby's, London. Important Old Master Paintings. July 11, 1973, p. 52, lot 72, ill.

Hunter, Penelope, and Gerald G. Stiebel, eds. The Grand Gallery at the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Sixth International Exhibition (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, with Hennage Creative Printers, 1975), p. 21, no. 15, ill.

Fredericksen, Burton B. Masterpieces of Painting in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1980), unpaginated, no. 37, ill.

Fredericksen, Burton B., Jiří Frel, and Gillian Wilson. The J. Paul Getty Museum Guidebook. 5th ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1980), pp. 55-56, ill.

Lettieri, Daniel. "Text, Narrative and Tradition: Scenes from 'Esther' by Aert de Gelder." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 8 (1980), pp. 69-86.

Robert Noortman Gallery, London. A Selection of Important Paintings by Old and Modern Masters from our 1980 Collection (London: Robert Noorman Gallery, 1980), no. 14, ill.

Blankert, Albert, et al., eds. Gods, Saints and Heroes: Dutch Painting in the Age of Rembrandt, exh. cat. (Washington, D. C.: National Gallery of Art, 1980), pp. 43, 178-79, no. 43, ill.

Sumowski, Werner. Gemälde der Rembrandt-Schüler in vier Bänden. 6 vols. (Landau: Edition PVA, 1983), vol. 2, p. 1162, no. 732, ill.

Blankert, Albert, et al., eds. The Impact of a Genius: Rembrandt, his Pupils and Followers in the Seventeenth Century; Paintings from Private Collections (Amsterdam: K. & V. Waterman, 1983), pp. 30, 162.

Sutton, Peter C. A Guide to Dutch Art in America (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1986), p. 141, fig. 205.

Verhaak, Els, and P. L. M. Verhaak. "De bontmutsen van de gebroeders Van Strij." Bulletin van het Rijksmuseum 38, no. 4 (1990), pp. 340-41, fig. 7.

Boonen, Jacqueline. "Verhalen van Israëls ballingschap en vrijheidsstrijd." In Het Oude Testament in de Schilderkunst van de Gouden Eeuw, exh. cat. Christian Tümpel et al., eds. (Amsterdam: Joods Historisch Museum, 1991), pp. 111, 119n45.

Moltke, J. W. von. Arent de Gelder, Dordrecht 1645 - 1727. Kristin L. Belkin, ed. (Doornspijk: Davaco, 1994), pp. 23-24, 80, no. 42, pl. 22, 42.

Jaffé, David. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 49, ill.

Schoon, Peter. "Arent de Gelder 1645-1727, 'de beste Leerling die Rembrandt teelde by de adelijke Schilderkunst.'" In Arent de Gelder [1645 - 1727]: Rembrandts laatste leerling, exh. cat. Dirk Bijker et al., eds. (Dordrecht: Dordrechts Museum, 1998), pp. 50, 52-53, 65-66, ill.

Sluiter, Guus. "Arent de Gelder." In Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon (Munich: Saur, 1992-), vol. 51 (2006), p. 177.

Sutton, Peter C., et al., eds. Reclaimed: Paintings from the Collection of Jacques Goudstikker, exh. cat. (Greenwich: Bruce Museum, with Yale University Press, 2008), fig. 27, ill.

Frederick, Michele L. "Imitatio and Aemulatio: Reevaluating Aert de Gelder's Self-Portrait as Zeuxis." Athanor 33 (2015), pp. 48, 52, fig. 9.