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The Feast of AbsalomEnlarge image

The Feast of Absalom, c. 1656-1661

Mattia Preti
Italian, 1613 - 1699
oil on canvas
183 x 262 cm
Purchased 1977
National Gallery of Canada (no. 18811)

"... Preti showed the fearful scene at the Feast where Absalom caused Amnon, who had violated his sister Tamar, to be put to death. A wonderful part of it is the movement of Absalom, rising from his chair at one side of the painting, his left hand on the table and with his right directing the killing of his incestuous brother Amnon. The latter, terror-struck and pressed by his assailants, throws himself on the table, his hands apart, with a face full of fear, seeking to escape the death that is already upon him. Next to Absalom, between them in fact, is seated Tamar, with a fanciful bonnet adorned with feathers and jewels, pale and astonished at the sudden drama. The other figures draw back in astonishment. All in all, everything is terror and horror." Bernardo de Dominici, Bernardo de Dominici, "Lives of the Neapolitan Painters, Sculptors and Architects", (Naples, 1742-43).

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