Jul 25, 2016

Elisha Cursing the Children of Bethel Who Are Being Devoured by the Bears

Elisha Cursing the Children of Bethel Who Are Being Devoured by the Bears


Gillis van Coninxloo

(Netherlandish, 1544–1607)

Nicolaes de Bruyn

(Netherlandish, 1571–1656)


Support: Cream(3) laid paper

Sheet: 47.4 x 59.9 cm (18 11/16 x 23 9/16 in.); Platemark: 46.5 x 58.7 cm (18 5/16 x 23 1/8 in.)

John L. Severance Fund 1996.223

Catalogue raisonné: Hollstein 53 (IV.14)



The Latin inscription in the bottom corner of the print quotes chapter two of the second Book of Kings (2 Kings 2:23-24) when the Hebrew prophet, Elisha, came upon the children of the city of Bethel who mocked him for his bald head. In the Lord's name Elisha cursed the children and all 42 were killed by two she-bears who emerged from the woods. This obscure Old Testament subject also illustrates an important moral lesson--old age must be respected. Approximating the size and tonal range of paintings by Coninxloo, prints such as these probably served as inexpensive substitutes for paintings.

See also
PR - Engraving
Type of artwork: 

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