An image of The visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon

Sir Edward John Poynter

(England 20 Mar 1836 – 26 Jul 1919)

The visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon

Other titles:
The Queen of Sheba before Soloman
19th c European art
Further information

When contemplating this picture it is useful to bear in mind that the second half of the nineteenth century was a period remarkable for archaeological researches and discoveries, especially by English expeditions. The British Museum was a treasure house of antiquities increasingly valued by artists as a reference library. Egypt and the Middle East replaced Greece and Italy as the focus of curiosity. 'The visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon' can be contextualised against a craze for orientalist narratives in literature, music and visual art. The wildly composite architectural system of Solomon's temple is reprised in the frame, which bridges the temporal and spatial distance between viewer and subject. The artist has been so obsessed with the accuracy of his details, however, that the figures seem somewhat doll-like. Trained in Paris under Gleyre, Poynter was at heart a Salonist for whom artistry resided in weight of detail rather than dramatic synthesis.

AGNSW Handbook, 1999.

oil on canvas
234.5 x 350.5 cm stretcher; 421.0 x 341.1 x 20.5 cm frame
Signature & date

Signed and dated l.r., brown oil "18 EJP [monogram] 90".

Purchased 1892
Accession number
Thomas McLean Gallery, London/England, Purchased by the AGNSW from Thomas McLean Gallery 1892. Purchased by Thomas McLean from the artist 1890.