The Idolatry of Solomon
Frans Francken II (Flemish, 1581 – 1642)
MediumOil on panel
DimensionsPanel : 17 1/8 x 13 1/8 in. (43.5 x 33.34 cm)
Frame : 23 1/4 x 19 3/8 in. (59.06 x 49.21 cm)
Credit LineGift of Johanna Just by exchange
LabelRuler of ancient Israel from about 970 to 930 BC, King Solomon was famous for his wealth, wisdom and piety. According to the Bible, however, in his old age Solomon was led to worship pagan gods by several of his wives and concubines. Solomon’s idol worship angered God, who punished Solomon by dividing the kingdom of Israel and removing his sons from power. This painting depicts Solomon dressed in luxurious robes kneeling beside one of his wives in front of a pagan altar. The columns in the background suggest the scene is set in the Temple of Jerusalem, which was built during Solomon’s reign. The story of Solomon’s idolatry was a popular subject in Protestant countries during the 17th century and was understood as a criticism of Roman Catholic religious practice, which Protestants believed put too much emphasis on religious icons and images.