Esther before Ahasuerus

Artemisia Gentileschi Italian

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 620

The most famous woman painter of the seventeenth century, Gentileschi worked in Rome, Florence, Venice, Naples, and London. This painting, among her most ambitious, represents the Jewish heroine Esther, who appeared before her husband, King Ahasuerus of Persia, in order to stave off a massacre of the Jewish people, breaking with court protocol and thereby risking death. Rather than historical recreation, contemporary theater informed how Gentileschi conceived this dramatic scene in which Esther faints just before the king grants her request. A servant of African descent restraining a dog was painted out by the artist, but is partly visible beneath the marble pavement to the left of the king’s knee.

Esther before Ahasuerus, Artemisia Gentileschi (Italian, born Rome 1593–died Naples 1654 or later), Oil on canvas

Due to rights restrictions, this image cannot be enlarged, viewed at full screen, or downloaded.

Open Access

As part of the Met's Open Access policy, you can freely copy, modify and distribute this image, even for commercial purposes.


Public domain data for this object can also be accessed using the Met's Open Access API.