Esther before Ahasuerus

A bearded man, wearing majestic red robes with a large ermine collar and a green turban surmounted by a crown, sits on a throne at left. He leans forward, holding a long thin scepter in his right hand while touching his chest with his left. Before him stand two women supporting a third, who has fainted. This third woman wears a splendid blue robe ornamented with a row of opulent clasps, a luxurious golden cloak lined with pink fabric, and a crown that seems to tilt precariously on the back of her head. The man looks intently into the face of the fainted woman, while the two women, in turn, watch his expression closely.
Guercino (Giovanni Francesco Barbieri)
1639
On this grand canvas the painter Guercino has depicted the dramatic intervention of Esther, the biblical heroine, with King Ahasuerus to save her people. Compelled to rescue the Jews from a royal decree ordering their destruction, Esther appears before the king to present a petition without having been summoned, an act that was punishable by death. Esther, wearing her crown, has fainted, and Ahasuerus rather than condemning her, feels compassion, eloquently expressed by the gesture of his left hand, and extends his scepter toward her as a sign of favor.
Museum Purchase
1963/2.45