Bathsheba at the Bath

WAG 1630


This scene is taken from the Old Testament book of Samuel. David saw Bathsheba bathing at night, was struck by her beauty and seduced her. Wilkie was best known for his small-scale realistic views of peasant life and for his historical scenes: this work, although it has elements of both, is unusual for him in its subject matter. Here he does not idealise the nude figure, instead laying stress on the humanity of the subject. The rich, dark tones were achieved by mixing bitumen into the paint medium.