Hans Holbein the Younger 1497/8 – 1543

Athaliah tears her cloths

woodcarving (60 × 85 mm) — 1538 Museum Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Hans Holbein the Younger biography

This work is linked to 2 Kings 11:14

Tags: Kings

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Athaliah was married to Jehoram, king of Judah. When Jehoram died, their son Ahaziah took over. He was killed after just one year on the throne. That is when Athaliah came to power.

She worshipped Baal and had all descendants of king David killed, to prevent them from claiming the throne. Her grandson Jehoash however was kept hidden by his aunt.

After six years Athaliah's reign was overthrown by the high priest Jehoiada. He and the people proclaimed Jehoash king of Judah.

Holbein here shows the moment Athaliah rushes into the temple, to find Jehoash sitting on the throne with a crown on his head. Out of anger she then tears her cloths before the priest.

To the left is a second scene. Outside the temple, Athaliah is killed, at the order of Jehoiada.

The print is one of about 90 Holbein made on the Old Testament. They were first published in 1538 in the Biblia Utriusque Testamenti iuxta Vulgatam Translationem. Holbein made the sketches, Veit Rudolf Specklin cut the wood.

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