• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 5232

    Old Master & British Pictures

    31 October 2007, London, South Kensington

  • Lot 2

    Follower of Lambert Sustris

    Balthasar's Feast

    Price Realised  


    Follower of Lambert Sustris
    Balthasar's Feast
    oil on canvas
    34½ x 28 3/8 in. (86.4 x 71.8 cm.)

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    Daniel 5: 1-4 describes 'Belshazzar's Feast' in which King Balthasar, a descendant of King Nebuchadnezzar, held a great banquet for a thousand of his nobles using holy vessels seized from the Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Captivity, profanely praising the gods of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood and stone. As the feast began, a human hand appeared and began to write a cryptic message on the palace wall, thought to be an atbash cipher: mene mene (to number), tekel (to weigh) upharsin (to divide). Balthasar called upon Daniel to interpret the words, who revealed the menacing subtext 'Thou art weighed in the balance and art found wanting', and that the kingdom would soon fall. The narrative unfolds against the background of the impending arrival of the Persian armies, and the same night, Balthasar was killed, and the kingdom seized by Darius the Great.

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    Lord Ribbesdale, Gisburn Park.