Overdoor, "La Toilette d'Esther", 1825
Block-printed on handmade paper. Gift of Eleanor and Sarah Hewitt. 1931-45-1.
- After Jean-François de Troy
What is this?
Horizontal rectangle, on two joined sheets of paper, printed in brilliant colors. Esther, seated, being attended by serving woman, with Hagar standing by. Architectural background with drapery.
This object is full of stories
This firescreen or overdoor is nearly an exact copy of an oil painting by Jean-Francois de Troy from 1738. Between the years 1736 and 1742 Jean-François de Troy (French, 1679-1752) created seven cartoons or studies for the Gobelins Tapestry Manufactory telling the story of Esther. There were slight variations between de Troy’s paintings and the woven tapestry’s but the changes were minimal. This scene depicts Esther who is celebrated by the Jewish community during the Festival of Purim where they read from a book in her name. In the biblical tale Esther becomes Queen of Persia through her marriage to King Ahasuerus, though he does not know of her religious origin. Her cousin Mordecai learns of a plan to eradicate the entire Jewish community and the story reveals that Esther is responsible for convincing the king to spare her people, thus providing salvation for the entire Jewish community.
Firescreens were used to cover the empty fireplace in the summer months creating a nice decorative cover to an otherwise unsightly hole in the wall. It was also popular at this time to use decorative panels over doors, filling that void between the top of the door frame and the high ceiling. These panels appeared in infinite variety and were designed like little scenic wallpapers in that they frequently contained landscape views and had no repeat. Still life vignettes were another popular genre with many containing lavish spreads of fruits, wines, and cheese.