Symbolism In Esther Before Ahasuerus

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Esther before Ahasuerus,1628-1630 is a painting by Artemisia Gentileschi, belonging to the period of the Italian Baroque. It is a large, two dimensional oil painting that displays a story of four figures. In a court, there is a man assumed to be Ahasuerus is rising out of his chair and appears to be stepping forward towards this woman, Esther, who appears to be fainting, and there are two women beside her who are holding her, preventing her from falling. Gentileschi uses a diagonal composition, space, light, texture, and color to depict a story of a man that is a part of a higher hierarchy who is confronting a woman that is in distress and creates a subject of agony. The background of the painting is dark with hues of browns and reds. Light enters the painting from the left and can be seen on the tiled floor. The lighting helps to create the diagonal composition as it moves across the lower half of the painting. The contrast of light also creates space between the man and the woman fainting; symbolizing a disconnect between the two figures. The use of space is also interesting, Ahsauerus is alone and is enclosed in a corner, while Esther is being held by two other woman who are physically very close to her, not allowing any space between their clothes, suggesting a nurturing characteristic that is often stereotyped among…show more content…
Esther is cared for by two other woman, inferring she is a person of goodwill and people care for her. Ahsauerus is viewed as a man who is wrong, and immoral based on his clothing, posture, and facial expression. The relationship between the two leaves the viewer sympathizing for Esther as she is seen in a fragile state. Gentileschi is able to capture the agony of Esther by using different techniques and elements of art and constructs a painting that shows a