Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Two Riddles of the Queen of Sheba

Date:
ca. 1490–1500
Geography:
Made in Strasbourg, Upper Rhineland, Germany
Culture:
Upper Rhenish
Medium:
Linen warp; wool, linen and metallic wefts
Dimensions:
31 1/2 x 40 in. (80 x 101.6 cm)
Classification:
Textiles-Tapestries
Credit Line:
The Cloisters Collection, 1971
Accession Number:
1971.43
Not on view
Although the Bible states that the Queen of Sheba posed difficult questions to Solomon, their content, not specified in the biblical text, comes from eastern folklore. Here the queen asks Solomon how to tell the boy from the girl in a look-alike pair and the real flower from an identical artificial flower. Solomon replies that the girl will catch the apple in the lap of her dress and the bee will go only to the real flower. The figure of Solomon shows the influence of the Upper Rhenish engraver Master E.S. The unusual and extensive use of Ghiordes knot in the costumes and in the hair of Solomon is thought to be characteristic of Strasbourg workshops.

Please note that this object is exhibited on a rotating basis, due to conservation requirements.
Inscription: (on the Queen's scroll): BESCHEYD MICH KUNIG OB BLUOMEN UND KIND GLISCH AN ART ODER UNGLICH SINT [Translation: Tell me, king, if flowers and children are like, or unlike in their kind]

(on Solomon's scroll): DIE BINE EIN GUOTE BLUOM NIT SPLART DAS KNUWEN ZOIGT DIE WIPLICH ART [Translation: The bee does not miss a real flower. Kneeling shows the female sex]
J. Pierpont Morgan, London and New York (before 1906-1916) ; [ P. W. French & Co., New York (1916)] ; W. Hinckle Smith, Philadelphia (1916-1970) ; [ P. W. French & Co. New York (1970 - sold 1971)]
Kajitani, Nobuko. "Two Riddles of the Queen of Sheba: Technical Notes." Metropolitan Museum Journal 6 (1972). pp. 97-103, fig. 1-9.

Ostoia, Vera K. "Two Riddles of the Queen of Sheba." Metropolitan Museum Journal 6 (1972). pp. 73-96, fig. 1.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Notable Acquisitions (Metropolitan Museum of Art) no. 1965/1975 (1975). p. 164.

Pushkin Museum and State Hermitage Museum. Dekorativno-Prikladnoe Iskusstvo ot Pozdnei Antichnosti do Pozdnei Gotiki: Kratkii Katalog Vystavki. Moscow: Pushkin Museum, 1990. no. 69, pp. 13, 43, fig. 69.

State Hermitage Museum. Dekorativno-Prikladnoe Iskusstvo ot Pozdnei Antichnosti do Pozdnei Gotiki. St. Petersburg: State Hermitage Museum, 1990. no. 69, pp. 144-145.

Cavallo, Adolfo S. Medieval Tapestries in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1993. no. 59, pp. 648-653, fig. 187-188.

Boehm, Barbara Drake. "Textiles in The Metropolitan Museum of Art." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 53, no. 3 (Winter 1995-1996).

Hourihane, Colum P., ed. The Grove Encyclopedia of Medieval Art and Architecture. Vol. 5. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012. p. 18, pl. II, fig. 1.



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