The painting is the most important history painting by Rembrandt in a British Collection and the first startlingly dramatic Baroque painting supported by the Art Fund.

This painting depicts a scene from the Old Testament. Belshazzar, the King of Babylon, is serving wine in sacred gold and silver vessels looted by his father from the Temple of Jerusalem. The divine hand writes on the wall and Belshazzar and his guests turn to look. Only Daniel is able to decipher the inscription which foretells the King's death that night and the subsequent division of his kingdom. The picture is a tour de force not only of gesture and expression but also of painterly skill, evident in the bold foreshortening of the woman at the right, the gleaming gold vessels, and the dazzling virtuosity of Belshazzar's turban and brocaded cloak.


The Earl of Derby.

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