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John Singer Sargent RA, The Messianic Era: Israel and the Law

The Messianic Era: Israel and the Law, ca. 1903-1909

John Singer Sargent RA (1856 - 1925)

RA Collection: Art

This is a study for one of a series of murals depicting Judaeo-Christian religious imagery, which Sargent painted for Boston Public Library between 1895 and 1916.

Surrounded by guardian angels, the hooded figure of Jehovah shows a Hebrew scroll of the Law to Israel (personified as a boy) who counts its decrees on his fingers. Inscribed around the upper edge of the painting are the words spoken in Jewish ritual before the commandments are recited. The balanced composition and reserved painterly style reflect Sargent's French academic training.

The finished mural 'Israel and the Law' is the central image on the east wall of the library's third floor hall. To its left and right are the lunettes 'The Fall of Gog and Magog' and 'The Coming of the Mess1anic Era'. Opposite them, on the west wall, are images relating to Christian notions of redemption - "The Judgment", "The Passing of Souls into Heaven" and "Hell".

Object details

The Messianic Era: Israel and the Law
ca. 1903-1909
Object type
Oil on canvas

842 mm x 1680 mm x 18 mm

Royal Academy of Arts
Object number
Given by Mrs Violet Ormond 1936

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