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Saul and the Witch of Endor

1828 William Sidney Mount Born: Setauket, New York 1807 Died: Setauket, New York 1868 oil on canvas 36 x 48 in. (91.3 x 122.0 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of International Business Machines Corporation 1966.48.1 Smithsonian American Art Museum
Luce Foundation Center, 3rd Floor, 7B


Luce Center Label

William Sidney Mount created only a few paintings based on historical and literary scenes. This piece illustrates a passage from the Old Testament, in which Saul sought help from an oracle before going to war with the Philistines. The witch summoned the spirit of the prophet Samuel so that Saul could ask him for advice. In this painting, Saul and his men cower in horror as the ghost comes forward to speak to them (1 Samuel 28). This episode was familiar to nineteenth-century audiences who had been raised on scripture.

Keywords

Figure group - male

Landscape - time - night

Religion - Old Testament - Saul

Religion - Old Testament - Witch of Endor

State of being - emotion - fear

State of being - phenomenon - vision

painting

paint - oil

fabric - canvas

About William Sidney Mount

Born: Setauket, New York 1807 Died: Setauket, New York 1868