Pieter Lastman, who was Rembrandt's teacher for six months in 1625, painted many particularly rare biblical subjects. In this painting he shows a scene from the story of King David. After having committed adultery with Uriah's wife Bathsheba, David commands Uriah to visit her to disguise the fact that he has impregnated Bathsheba. But Uriah, unconscious of this deception, feels duty bound to rejoin his regiment on the battlefield. Lastman shows the moment when David hands Uriah a letter for his commander asking that Uriah be placed in the front ranks of battle, where he will eventually be killed (II Sam. 11). The scene illustrates how an otherwise righteous ruler can be led into temptation and then turn into a murderer.
Artist Pieter Pietersz Lastman, Dutch, 1583-1633
Title
  • King David Handing the Letter to Uriah
Date 1611
Medium Oil on oak panel
Dimensions Unframed: 20 1/8 × 24 1/8 inches (51.1 × 61.3 cm)
Framed: 28 × 32 × 2 5/8 inches (71.1 × 81.3 × 6.7 cm)
Credit Line Gift of Mr. and Mrs. John N. Lord
Accession Number 60.63
Department European Painting
On View Dutch Golden Age S380, Level 3 (see map)
Signed Signed and dated, lower left: P. Lastman Fec 1611
ca. between 1918 and 1938, State Office for the Preservation of Historical Monuments for Bohemia (Prague, Czechoslovakia);
1938, Galerie St Lucas (Vienna, Austria);
1938, Kunsthistorisches Museum (Vienna, Austria);
1938-1939, Dr. Richard Neumann (Vienna, Austria and Paris, France);
1940, Geza Solpray (Neuilly-sur-Seine, Paris);
ca. 1953, Dr. Richard Neumann (New York, New York, USA);
ca. 1956, Mrs. Elizabeth M. Drey (New York, New York, USA);
1959, Mr. Lawrence A. Fleischman (Detroit, Michigan, USA);
1960, gift to the Archives of American Art;
Mr. and Mrs. John N. Lord;
1960-present, gift to the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)
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