The Writing on the Wall at Belshazzar's Feast

Unknownabout 1400 - 1410

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum

In this miniature inspired by a Biblical story, King Belshazzar dines at a magnificent feast to celebrate his successful looting of the Temple at Jerusalem. While dining, a disembodied hand begins to write mysterious characters on the wall. The king finds that only the prophet Daniel can interpret the signs: the king will die for his act of sacrilege. This story explains the origins of a phrase we still use today: "read the writing on the wall."

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  • Title: The Writing on the Wall at Belshazzar's Feast
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date: about 1400 - 1410
  • Location Created: Regensburg, Bavaria, Germany
  • Physical Dimensions: Leaf: 33.5 x 23.5 cm (13 3/16 x 9 1/4 in.)
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Tempera colors, gold, silver paint, and ink on parchment
  • Source Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Ms. 33, fol. 214v
  • Object Type: Folio
  • Object Status: Permanent Collection
  • Number: Ms. 33, fol. 214v
  • Department: Manuscripts
  • Culture: German
  • Classification: Manuscripts