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Esther at the Palace Gate, from Enlarge image

Esther at the Palace Gate, from "The Story of Esther", c. 1475

Filippino Lippi (Workshop of); Sandro Botticelli
Italian, 1457 - 1504
egg tempera, oil glazes and mordant gilding on poplar
48.4 x 43.2 x 3.2 cm
Purchased 1953
National Gallery of Canada (no. 6085)

These works come from a set of six panels that once decorated a pair of marriage chests. The story of Esther, virtuous wife and saviour of her people, held a strong resonance. The first chest showed Esther's rise: she was summoned to King Ahasuerus' palace, where she would become his queen in place of the disobedient Vashti. The second chest was devoted to the plot of Haman, the king's evil councillor, who planned to destroy the Jews. Here Esther's uncle Mordecai triumphs, his horse led by their humiliated enemy. Botticelli was responsible for the overall design, but delegated part of the work to his student and collaborator, Filippino. Botticelli's work is forceful and simple, underpinned by rigorous logic; Filippino's the more elegant and stylish.

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