Samson and Delilah
Painted in 1859.
oil on canvas
5478 x 5478 in. (139.1 x 139.1 cm.)
Private collection, by 1908.
with John A. Cooling, London.
Rindoko Museum, Tochigi.
Acquired directly from the above by the present owner, 2020.
'Society of British Artists,' The Observer, London, 27 March 1859, p. 5.
'Society of British Artists,' The Athenaeum, London, 2 April 1859, p. 457-458.
E. Rhys, Sir Frederic Leighton: an illustrated chronicle, London, 1895, p. 66.
E. Rhys, Frederic Lord Leighton, Late President of the Royal Academy of Arts, An Illustrated Record of His Life and Work, London, 1900, p. 18.
Catalogue of the Pictures and Sculptures in the National Gallery of British Art, London, 1900, p. 121.
A. Corkran, Little Book on Art: Frederic Leighton, London, 1904, p. 199.
E. Barrington, The Life, Letters and Work of Frederic Leighton, London, 1906, vol. II, pp. 39, 40, 47, 68, 74, 382.
E. Staley, Lord Leighton of Stretton, P.R.A., London, 1906, pp. 28, 55-57, 233.
Masters in Art, Boston, 1908, vol. 9, p. 166.
R. Foss, The English Bible and British and American Art, New York, 1935, p. 15.
L. Ormond and R. Ormond, Lord Leighton, London, 1975, pp. 40, 49, 151, no. 40.
R. F. Perkins and W. J. Gavin, III, eds., The Boston Athenaeum, Art Exhibition Index, 1827-1874, Boston, 1980, p. 91.
C. Newall, The Art of Lord Leighton, London, 1990, pp. 28, 35.
S. Jones, 'Leighton's Debt to Michelangelo: The evidence of the drawings,' Lord Leighton 1830-1896 and Leighton House centenary celebration, London, 1996, p. 35.
C. Newall, Frederic, Lord Leighton 1830-1896: Painter and Sculptor of the Victorian Age, exh. cat., Munich and New York, 2009, p. 16.
London, Royal Society of British Artists, 1859, no. 213.
Liverpool, 1859, no. 269.
Boston, Athenaeum Gallery, Thirty-Sixth Annual Exhibition of Paintings and Statuary, 1860, no. 289.
Brought to you by

Lot Essay

The story of Samson and Delilah has provided rich fodder for artists from the Renaissance through the present day. The scene usually depicts the moment of betrayal by Delilah, who lulls the hero to sleep and cuts off his hair, from which he derived his superhuman strength. Samson is in despair, and feels that by his lust he betrayed God and his punishment is the loss of his gift of strength. The story goes on to describe his capture by the Philistines, his blinding by his captors, his repentance resulting in the return of his power and his subsequent self-sacrifice in the tearing down of the pillars of the Philistine temple of the god Dagon, killing everyone within as well as himself.
The present work depicts a softer moment in an otherwise violent story. The once-proud warrior is depicted after his blinding, his sorrowful wife at his side and he is supported by one of his Philistine oppressors, perhaps the very man who ordered his mutilation. It is a moment of pathos, and weaves together themes of sin and redemption, frailty and strength, and power and helplessness.

Related Articles

Sorry, we are unable to display this content. Please check your connection.

More from
European Art
Place your bid Condition report

A Christie's specialist may contact you to discuss this lot or to notify you if the condition changes prior to the sale.

I confirm that I have read this Important Notice regarding Condition Reports and agree to its terms. View Condition Report