Melchior Lorck, attributed to
Danish (born in Germany), c. 1527–after 1588
Esther and Ahasuerus, c. 1560
oil on panel
100.2 x 98.2 cm
Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery; Gift of Lord and Lady Gort
Danish architect and painter Melchior Lorch travelled across Europe carrying out various court commissions including those for Emperors Ferdinand I and Frederick II of Denmark. This highly detailed painting presents the Old Testament story of Esther, the beautiful Jewish heroine who won the affection of the Persian King Ahasuerus (and became his queen), and who, with her cousin Mordecai, helped save her people from annihilation by Haman. Several scenes from the Book of Esther are documented here. In the lower right, Esther confers with Ahasuerus at a banquet; in the centre, she is seen in front of the palace, kneeling on a dais before the king; and in the open portal in the left central portion, the condemned Haman (who had declared that all Jews should be killed) can be seen hanging from the gallows. The overall setting is made more dramatic by the sense of space created through a dramatic one-point perspective.