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Wood Engraving - Dalziels' Bible Gallery - The Death of Eglon

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Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery

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Basic Information

Accession Number:1920P713.1.53
Collection:Fine Art Prints and Drawings
Date:1881 - 1881

Maker Information

Artist:Ford Madox Brown - View biography for Ford Madox Brown
Engraver:Dalziel Brothers - View history
Publisher:George Routledge & Sons - View history

Notes

This is the least well known of Brown's three designs for Dalziels' Bible Gallery. In November 1863 Brown was sent a list by the Dalziel brothers of scenes from the Bible suitable for illustrating. From these he chose Joseph's Coat and Elijah and the Widow's Son and suggested Ehud and Eglon, an obscure story from the Old Testament, as a subject. The text is taken from Judges 3, 15-31 and tells the story of the murder of Eglon by Ehud and the ultimate victory of the Israelites over the Moabites:

But when the children of Israel cried unto the Lord, the Lord raised them up a deliverer, Ehud the son of Gera, a Benjamite, a man left-handed: and by him the children of Israel sent a present unto Eglon the king of Moab. But Ehud made him a dagger which had two edges, of a cubit length; and he did girt it under his raiment upon his right thigh. And he brought the present unto Eglon ling of Moab: and Eglon was a very fat man. And when he had made an end to offer the present, he sent away the people that bare the present. But he himself turned again from the quarries that were by Gilgal, and said, I have a secret errand unto thee, O king: who said Keep silence. And all that stood by him went out from him. And Ehud came unto him; and he was sitting in a summer parlour, which he had for himself alone. And Ehud said, I have a message from God unto thee. And he arose out of his seat. And Ehud put forth his left hand and took the dagger from his right thigh, and thrust it into his belly: And the haft also went in after the blade; and so the fat closed upon the blade, so that he could not draw the dagger out of his belly; and the dirt came out.

The tale finishes with the two tribes fighting each other and the Israelites slaughtering ten thousand Moabites. After this there is peace over the land for the next fourscore years.

Thankfully, Brown chooses to depict the moment before Eglon's bloody death, and shows Ehud just about to commit the murder. The patriotic sentiments of the story may have drawn him to the subject as suggested by the Pall Mall Gazette's response to the illustration. Their critic described it as 'admirable in decorative invention, and bringing out wonderfully the moment of crisis where the patriot assassin has thrown off and half retains the mask' (Review of Brown's exhibition, Work and other Paintings, in The Pall Mall Gazette, 29 March, 1865, p. 10). The design was a vehicle to enable Brown to indulge in the luxurious genre of Orientalism. He faithfully reproduces the strong summer light flooding into Eglon's parlour and fills the parlour with exotic-looking objects and writing based on Assyrian artefacts.
LM

Presented by Wilfred Phillips, 1920.

Further Information

Production Period:19th century
School/Style:Biblical
Medium:Wood engraving on India paper, in bound volume.
Material(s):India paper

Dimensions

Height:152 mm
Width:188 mm