Drawn by the Brush: Oil Sketches by Peter Paul Rubens
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Peter Paul Rubens
Samson and Delilah, probably 1609
Oil on panel, 52.1 x 50.5 cm
Cincinnati Art Museum, Mr. and Mrs. Harry S. Leyman Endowment,
acc. no. 1972.459


Catalog Entry by Marjorie E. Wieseman

The subject of this dramatic scene is taken from the Old Testament book of Judges (chap. 16): the Hebrew hero and legendary strongman Samson spent his life enmeshed in the brutal ongoing conflict between Israel and the Philistines. He fell in love with the beautiful but deceitful Delilah, whom the Philistines bribed to discover the source of Samson's colossal strength. Wearied by Delilah's persistent questioning, Samson revealed to her that his strength lay in his hair: if his hair were cut, he would be no stronger than any other man. One night as he lay sleeping in Delilah's lap, she called for a man to cut off his hair, and Samson was immediately overpowered and captured by the Philistines...


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