Daniel’s Answer to the King

Briton Rivière, Daniel’s Answer to the King. 1890. Oil on canvas,  Manchester City Art Gallery, Manchester.

Briton Rivière (1840–1920) was a British artist who specialized in painting animals. Rivière meticulously studied wildlife to perfect his compositions. He attended dissections at the London Zoological Gardens and kept the “body of a fine lioness” in his studio. In this work, he paints a scene from the biblical story of Daniel, a Jewish official in the service of the Persian king Darius. Darius had issued an edict that no man should pray to any God or man other Darius himself. Daniel defied the ruling and continued to pray toward Jerusalem, so Darius convicted him and threw him to the lions. The next day Daniel was still alive and unharmed. Rivière shows Daniel with his back turned on the lions in relaxed contemplation, eyes raised in deference to God. Here Daniel prefers to face death rather than forsake God.  

Briton Rivière, Daniel’s Answer to the King. Oil on canvas, 1890. Manchester City Art Gallery, Manchester. Width:

The king of the Persian Achaemenid Empire at its peak, from 550-486 B.C.E. His decree to continue the rebuilding of the Temple appears in Ezra 6.

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