Daniel and Cyrus Before the Idol Bel

Object Details

Title:

Daniel and Cyrus Before the Idol Bel

Artist/Maker(s):

Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn (Dutch, 1606 - 1669)

Culture:

Dutch

Date:

1633

Medium:

Oil on panel

Dimensions:

23.5 x 30.2 cm (9 1/4 x 11 7/8 in.)

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When King Cyrus of Persia, seen at the center, asked his confidant Daniel why he does not worship the deity Bel, whose lower half can be seen in the shadows, Daniel replied that he worshipped a living god, not an idol. The king insisted that Bel was a living god and pointed to the offerings of food and wine that Bel consumed every night. Cautiously, Daniel noted that bronze statues do not eat. Cyrus was momentarily bewildered, but the worried faces of the priests in the background confirm that Daniel has exposed their deception. This story of Daniel's dramatic exposure of the king's idol-worship derives from the apocryphal portion of the Book of Daniel.

Light illuminates the figures of Cyrus and Daniel, highlighting their dramatic encounter. Rembrandt contrasted the king's grandeur with Daniel's humility. Facing out and gesturing toward the table, the lavishly attired Cyrus appears large and imposing. By contrast, the youthful Daniel seems small, and his posture suggests modesty or submissiveness before his ruler. Rembrandt evoked the exotic mystery of a pagan cult by showing only part of the monumental idol emerging from the flickering lamplight on the right. Inside the shadowy temple, light catches and reflects off the extravagant finery worn by Cyrus and the gold vessels placed atop the velvet tablecloth.

Provenance
in 1650

Pieter Croon (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

- 1733

Barton Booth, 1681 - 1733, by inheritance to his wife, Hester Santlow Booth, 1733.

1733 - 1773

Hester Santlow Booth, 1690 - 1773, by inheritance to her grandson, Edward Eliot, 1773.

1773 - 1804

Edward Craggs-Eliot, first baron Eliot, 1727 - 1804 (Port Eliot, Cornwall, England), probably by inheritance to his son, John Eliot, 1804.

1804 - 1823

John Eliot, first earl of St. Germans, 1761 - 1823 (Port Eliot, Cornwall, England), probably by inheritance to his brother, William Eliot, 1823.

1823 - 1845

William Eliot, second earl of St. Germans, 1767 - 1845 (Port Eliot, Cornwall, England), probably by inheritance to his son, Edward Granville Eliot, 1845.

1845 - 1877

Edward Granville Eliot, third earl of St. Germans, 1798 - 1877 (Port Eliot, Cornwall, England), probably by inheritance to his son, William Gordon Cornwallis Eliot, 1877.

1877 - 1881

William Gordon Cornwallis Eliot, fourth earl of St. Germans, 1829 - 1881 (Port Eliot, Cornwall, England), probably by inheritance to his brother, Henry Cornwallis Eliot, 1881.

1881 - 1911

Henry Cornwallis Eliot, fifth earl of St. Germans, 1835 - 1911 (Port Eliot, Cornwall, England), probably by inheritance to his son, John Granville Cornwallis Eliot, 1911.

1911 - 1922

John Granville Cornwallis Eliot, sixth earl of St. Germans, 1890 - 1922 (Port Eliot, Cornwall, England), probably by inheritance to his first cousin, Granville John Eliot, 1922.

1922 - 1942

Granville John Eliot, seventh earl of St. Germans, 1867 - 1942 (Port Eliot, Cornwall, England), probably by inheritance to his brother, Montague Charles Eliot, 1942.

1942 - 1960

Montague Charles Eliot, eighth earl of St. Germans, 1870 - 1960 (Port Eliot, Cornwall, England), probably by inheritance to his son, Nicholas Richard Michael Eliot, 1960.

1960 - 1988

Nicholas Richard Michael Eliot, ninth earl of St. Germans, 1914 - 1988 (Port Eliot, Cornwall, England), probably by inheritance to his son, Peregrine Eliot, 1988.

1988 - 1992

Peregrine Eliot, tenth earl of St. Germans, born 1941 (Port Eliot, Cornwall, England), transferred to the Trustees of the Earl of St. Germans' Settlement.

by 1992

Trustees of the Earl of St. Germans' Heirlooms Settlement (Port Eliot, Cornwall, England) [unsold, Christie's, London, April 15, 1992, lot 28.]

- 1995

Thomas Agnew & Sons, Ltd. (London, England), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1995.

Exhibitions
Rembrandt Rembrandt (November 3, 2002 to May 11, 2003)
  • Kyoto National Museum, (Kyoto), November 3, 2002 to January 13, 2003, (Cat. 20 [Kyoto] Cat. 18 [Frankfurt] Cat. 20/18)
  • Städel Museum, (Frankfurt am Main), January 31 to May 11, 2003, (Cat. 20 [Kyoto] Cat. 18 [Frankfurt] Cat. 20/18)
Rembrandt's Journey: Painter, Draftsman, Etcher (October 26, 2003 to May 9, 2004)
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, October 26, 2003 to January 19, 2004, (Cat. 35)
  • The Art Institute of Chicago, February 14 to May 9, 2004, (Cat. 35)
Rembrandt: Pintor de Historias (October 15, 2008 to January 6, 2009)
  • Museo del Prado, (Madrid), October 15, 2008 to January 6, 2009, (Cat. 13)
Bibliography

Groot, Cornelis Hofstede de. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch Painters of the Seventeenth Century, based on the Work of John Smith. Edward G. Hawke, ed. and trans. 8 vols. (London: Macmillan and Co., 1908-1927), vol. 6 (1916), p. 50, no. 50, and (possibly) p. 52, no. 54a.

Fredericksen, Burton B., et al. Masterpieces of Painting in the J. Paul Getty Museum. 3rd ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1995), unpaginated, no. 24, ill., entry by Dawson Carr.

Jaffé, David. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 104, ill.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 6th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2001), p. 119, ill.

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    Audio: Daniel and Cyrus Before the Idol Bel (Highlights)