The J. Paul Getty Museum
Daniel and Cyrus before the Idol Bel
Despite the small size of this wood panel, Rembrandt captured the startling emotional climax of the key dramatic confrontation from the biblical Book of Daniel. As if on a stage, the over-large figure of the Persian king Cyrus stands at the center of an opulent temple. The humble yet resolute figure of Daniel, seen in profile, eloquently presses his accusation—that the king has been worshipping an idol—from the shadowy foreground. The profound impact of their exchange registers clearly on Cyrus’s face. Rendered with surprising breadth and fluidity for its scale, the work features dim areas that are thinly painted while Cyrus’s dazzling cloak is more thickly executed. Along with The Raising of Lazarus (no. 8) and The Abduction of Europa (no. 5), this jewellike work reveals Rembrandt’s command of light effects and his vividly imagined biblical past, including fine details such as the tiny crown atop Cyrus’s turban.
Daniel and Cyrus before the Idol Bel, 1633. Oil on panel, 9 1/4 x 11 7/8 in. (23.5 x 30.2 cm). The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, 95.PB.15