Christ Showing the Little Children as the Emblem of Heaven


Benjamin West ( American, active in England, 1738 - 1820 )

c. 1810–1820
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General Description

Executed by Benjamin West and probably several of his students shortly before his death, this painting is a late example of a religious theme that the artist had begun exploring in 1790. The composition likely relates to Matthew 18:1-4 in the Christian New Testament: "At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." A large-scale treatment of the subject by West still hangs in the Thomas Coram Foundation for Children foundling hospital in London, and its popularity doubtless created demand among private collectors for smaller examples such as this one.

Excerpt from

William Keyse Rudolph, DMA label copy, 2006

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