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Judgment of Solomon

Valentin de Boulogne French

Not on view

Two mothers have appeared before the young Solomon, each claiming the living child as her own and the dead as belonging to the other. "Give half to the one and half to the other," Solomon commands. One agrees and hands up the child; the true mother pleads that the son be spared. Valentin captures the scene at this pivotal moment, with the two spectators mirroring our gaze. The mother at right has rushed onto the scene, as indicated by the fluttering apron—a device that was used as well by the sculptor Bernini.

One of Valentin’s most compelling masterpieces, the picture was owned by Cardinal Jules Mazarin and was chosen to decorate the king’s gallery of paintings at Versailles.

Judgment of Solomon, Valentin de Boulogne (French, Coulommiers-en-Brie 1591–1632 Rome), Oil on canvas

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