Gerard David: The Judgment of Cambyses (1498)


(Groeninge Museum, Bruges, Belgium)

Two rather gruesome paintings by the Dutch artist Gerard David (1460-1523).These 2 paintings were commissioned by the municipal authorities of Bruges to be hung for the room of the members of the city council (in Dutch the 'Schepenen'). The depicted scene is based upon a story from the Histories by Herodotus. According to the story the Persian judge Sisamnes was arrested for being corrupt. The Persian king Cambyses sentenced the judge to be flayed and that the skin was to be hung over the chair of the successor of Sisamnes (his son). The left panel show Sisamnes recieving money in the background. In the foreground Sisamnes is arrested in the presence of Cambyses. In the right panel Sisamnes is flayed and in the background his son Otanes is sitting in a chiar on which the flayed skin of his father is hung. The two paintings serve as a warning against corruption. Painting from 1498.

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