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The Prophet Elisha and the Shunammite Woman

Claes Corneliszoon Moeyaertabout 1630

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum
Los Angeles, United States

A Shunammite woman throws herself at the feet of the Old Testament prophet Elisha, begging his intervention to save her son. The son had collapsed in the fields and was seemingly dead. Elisha then went to the boy's room and performed his most remarkable miracle: he "lay on the child, put his mouth on his mouth. . . and the boy opened his eyes."

Most representations of the subject show Elisha in direct contact with the child, but Claes Cornelisz. Moeyaert chose a more unusual moment in the narrative. With subtle ingenuity, he underscored the broader moral implications of the story by simply presenting the woman's universal appeal for assistance. To heighten the emotional drama of the scene, she and Elisha appear in the foreground, shaded darker for emphasis, against a backdrop of less distinct yet attentive onlookers.

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