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Bowl with Judah and Lion Surrounded by Scenes from the Book of Esther
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Bowl with Judah and Lion Surrounded by Scenes from the Book of Esther

Description Conservation Exhibitions Provenance Inscription Credit
Description The source for the scenes on this bowl and on a similar one in the Moscow Kremlin Armory (inv. MP-1079) is the illustrated Bible of Nicholaus Johannes Piscator (1586-1652), a Dutch publisher and engraver. This Bible was translated into Russian in the 1670s and became a source for images on objects and church frescoes. The paintings, like the inscriptions, are freely adapted: there are more scenes on the bowl than are illustrated in the Piscator Bible, and sometimes a single scene has been painted in two parts to accommodate the lobes of the bowl. The image in the central medallion seems to allude to the young Russian Czar Peter I (r. 1682-1725), while the surrounding scenes from the Book of Esther may refer to his mother, the Czarina Natalia Kirillovna Naryshkina. Formerly attributed to a Solvychegodsk workshop, the bowl is more likely to have been made in Moscow.
Date Description Narrative
  • Festival of the Bible in the Arts. 1964.
  • Works of Faith. 1965.
  • Russian Art: Icons and Decorative Arts from the Origin to the Twentieth Century. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1959-1960.
  • The Hebrew Bible in Christian, Jewish & Muslim Art. The Jewish Museum, New York. 1963.
  • A Millennium of Christianity: Russian Art from The Walters Art Gallery. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1988-1989.
  • Russian Enamels. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1996-1997.
Provenance Alexandre Polovtsoff (Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Polovtsov), Saint Petersburg and Paris, by purchase; Henry Walters, Baltimore [date of acquisition unknown], by purchase; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Inscriptions [Translation] Jacob’s son, from whom Christ descended. Judah said [that] the lion will mightily conquer the enemies (cf. Rev. 5:5). Out of a thousand [virgins], Esther alone finds favor with the king and receives from him a royal crown on her head (cf. Esther 2:17). Mordecai served in the palace. He commands Esther not to reveal her kindred. The same he commanded about her people (cf. Esther 2:19-20). For seven days in the house of King Artaxerxes (Ahasuerus) his officials and servants made merry, and people of all ages ate (cf. Esther 2:18). Two chiefs of the guard of the king’s bed, grieved because Mordecai had been promoted, sought to kill King Artaxerxes (Ahasuerus) (cf. Esther 2:21). Aman (Haman), most fierce enemy of the Jews, swaggers [and] takes a ring from the king’s finger (cf. Esther 3:1.10). Messengers are sent by Aman (Haman) throughout Artaxerxes’ (Ahasuerus’) kingdom with a letter [commanding] to exterminate the race of the Jews in one day (cf. Esther 3:13). Esther sends the eunuch Achrathaeus (Hathach) to Mordecai to learn the truth. And Mordecai told her what had happened to him (cf. Esther 4:5-7). Esther approaches the king with a perturbed heart but not with sad news, [and] summons to a great banquet (cf. Esther 5:1-4). Aman (Haman) is accused, the queen reveals his evil deed, and he is hung upon the cross prepared for Mordecai (cf. Esther 7:5-10). [Transcription] С(ы)нъ Иаковлевъ, ωт негó же изыде Х(ристо)с / Iуда рече, крѣпко жъ лвà враги победитъ [Сын Яковлев, от него же изыде Христос / Иуда рече: Крепко же льва враги победит] (cf. Rev. 5:5) Едина ωт тысiащей Есвиръ угóдна ц(а)реви бываетъ, ωтнюдоу же ц(а)рскïи венéцъ на главѣ восприïмáетъ. Есвиръ Глав(а) в, стих(ъ) зi (cf. Esther 2:17) Мардохéй убо служáше во дворѣ ц(а)ревѣ. Есфирь заповѣдает рода своего не ѧвлѧти. Сице заповѣда о людехъ своихъ (cf. Esther 2:19-20) По сéдмь днéй в домоу у ц(а)рѧ Артаξéрξа веможи его и раби веселiахоусiа и всiакъ всiакъ возрастъ питáшесiа (cf. Esther 2:18) Двà начáлнiшïи стрáжи лóжа ц(а)рева оскóрблении соуть iако препочтенъ бысть Мардохéй искáху Артаξерξа ц(а)рѧ убити (cf. Esther 2:21) Амáнъ июдéωмъ прелютыи врáгъ себѣ превозношáетъ, перстень от ωт ц(а)рьского пéрста взимáетъ. Есфиръ Гла(ва) г, с(ти)х θ (cf. Esther 3:1.10) От Амана с пïсáнïемъ послы посылáютсѧ во все ц(а)рьство Артаξерксово да побиютъ р[o]дъ жидóвскïи в дéнь единъ (cf. Esther 3:13) Есфирь скопцà Ахраθéа спроситъ ïстины к Мородхею посылаетъ. Что имъ слоучишасѧ Мардохéи же сказà éй бывшее (cf. Esther 4:5-7) Сердцемъ смоущéнным но нескорбною вѣстию Есфïръ ко ц(а)рю прибѣгаетъ, на вечерю вéлию призывает. Есθ(иръ) Гла(ва) е, с(ти)х s (cf. Esther 5:1-4) Оглагóланъ Амáнъ бывáетъ, ц(а)рïца злодѣѧнïе расширѧетъ, Мардохею соωруженныи к(рес)тъ сáмъ претеръпѣвáетъ. Глав(а) з (cf. Esther 7:5-10)
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters

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ca. 1690 (Early Modern)
silver gilt, painted and filigree enamel
Accession Number
Diam: 10 1/8 in. (25.72 cm)
Location Within Museum
Not On View


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