circle of Geertgen tot Sint Jans: The Tree of Jesse (1500)

(Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

This painting shows the so-called "tree of Jesse". Jesse was the father of David - the King of Israel. in the Book of Isaiah there is a passage which states that "And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots" (Isaiah 11:1). This line means that Jesse will be the founding father of a line of kings which includes David, Solomon and eventually Jesus. This is shown here on the painting. Jesse is in the middle, sleeping. A tree grows from his lions and on the branches are the children, grandchildren etc. Slightly above Jesse there is his son, King David - he holds his harp. Above David sits Solomon. Further up in the tree are sitting Rehoboam, Abijam, Asa, Jehoshaphat, Jehoram, Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah and Manasseh - all rules of  ancient Israel and Judah. In the top of the tree sits Maria with the child Jesus which makes the entire tree the family tree of Christ. Besides the sleeping Jesse are two prophets, probably Isaiah and Jeremiah. Kneeling on the left is a nun, probably a nun from the Magdalene-order. She is the donor, the one who commissioned this painting. Painting from around 1500.

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