"Flemish School From The End Of The 17th Century, The Judgment Of Solomon"Flemish school late 17th - early 18th century
Circle of Peter Paul Rubens (Siegen 1577 - Antwerp 1640)
Oil on canvas, 51 x 67 cm.
with frame 63 x 78 cm.
The painting depicts the episode of the Judgment of King Solomon, taken from the Book of Kings, in the Old Testament (I Kings, 3, 16-28).
The work derives from a print by Boetius Adams Bolswert (see details), which reproduces the "Judgment of Solomon" preserved in the Statens Museum for Kunst in Copenhagen (1), made largely by Rubens' workshop with some intervention by the master. According to historical sources, the prototype for the Copenhagen painting originating in Rubens, dated 1616 and now destroyed, was found in the court room of the Brussels City Hall, destroyed by bombing in the late 1600s.
The canvas is the work of a Flemish painter, active towards the end of the seventeenth century, who certainly approaches the manner of Rubens, but who detaches himself from the master for a greater impetuosity of the style, with thick impasto brush strokes, strong contrasts of light and shade and a rather intense coloring. This manner is very reminiscent of that of Flemish Jacob Jordaens, who began his career as Rubens' assistant.
The subject of the painting sees the great king Solomon, known as one of the wisest politicians who have ever existed, called into question by two prostitutes, to establish who among them held the reason: living in the same house and having given birth both in the same period, the two women claimed the maternity of the newborn alive, and accusing each other of having given birth to the other, already dead.
The wisdom and sense of justice of King Solomon led him to order, in order not to wrong either of the two women, that the living child should be divided in two, so that each of the women could have one half of it. This order provoked the reaction of one of his mothers, who refused the verdict begging that rather the son was given alive and whole to the other, saving his life. Thanks to this reaction, Solomon understood which of the two was the real mother.
(1) Inventory no. KMSsp185: See https://collection.smk.dk/#/en/detail/KMSsp185
Excellent state of conservation.