The Judgement of Solomon

Flemish (Antwerp) School

The Judgement of Solomon

Flemish (Antwerp) School


This scene from the Bible (i Kings 3. 16-28) relates the story of a judgement by King Solomon, the King of Israel known for his wisdom. Two prostitutes who lived in the same house gave birth at the same time. When one child died, each claimed to be the mother of the living child. Solomon ordered this child to be cut in two and shared between them, knowing the real mother would renounce her claim so that its life would be spared. Solomon is seen here seated on an elaborate throne in an ornate, colonnaded hall. A courtier gestures to the two infants on a blanket at his feet, while the mothers, in the left and right foreground, anxiously await his judgement. The subject would have been an appropriate commission for a either a church or a court of justice. The figures are painted wearing sumptuous contemporary fashions and are placed in an architectural fantasy, densely covered with elaborate Italianate decorative motifs, which suggests that this is the work of one of the first generation of Antwerp Mannerists. Their work is characterised by the use of ornate, classical architectural settings, lavish costume out of keeping with the period of the narrative, and dramatic gestures of the kind seen here in the stances of the genuflecting courtier and the woman with clasped hands.

Object Name

The Judgement of Solomon

Creators Name

Flemish (Antwerp) School

Date Created



unframed: 110.2cm x 95.3cm

accession number


Place of creation





oil paint


© Manchester Art Gallery

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