The visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon

Edward Poynter1890

Art Gallery of New South Wales

Art Gallery of New South Wales
Sydney, Australia

When contemplating this picture it is useful to bear in mind that the second half of the nineteenth century was a period remarkable for archaeological researches and discoveries, especially by English expeditions. The British Museum was a treasure house of antiquities increasingly valued by artists as a reference library. Egypt and the Middle East replaced Greece and Italy as the focus of curiosity. 'The visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon' can be contextualised against a craze for orientalist narratives in literature, music and visual art. The wildly composite architectural system of Solomon's temple is reprised in the frame, which bridges the temporal and spatial distance between viewer and subject. The artist has been so obsessed with the accuracy of his details, however, that the figures seem somewhat doll-like. Trained in Paris under Gleyre, Poynter was at heart a Salonist for whom artistry resided in weight of detail rather than dramatic synthesis.

AGNSW Handbook, 1999.


  • Title: The visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon
  • Creator: Sir Edward John Poynter
  • Date Created: 1890
  • Physical Dimensions: 234.5 x 350.5 cm stretcher; 421.0 x 341.1 x 20.5 cm frame
  • Provenance: Thomas McLean Gallery, London/England, Purchased by the AGNSW from Thomas McLean Gallery 1892. Purchased by Thomas McLean from the artist 1890.
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: Purchased 1892
  • Medium: oil on canvas
  • Signature & Date: Signed and dated l.r., brown oil "18 EJP [monogram] 90".
  • Object Other Titles: The Queen of Sheba before Soloman
  • Artist Country: England

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