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Work Esther Preparing Herself to Meet King Ahasuerus

Department of Paintings: French painting

Esther Preparing Herself to Meet King Ahasuerus, also known as The Toilette of Esther

© Musée du Louvre/A. Dequier - M. Bard

French painting

Pomarède Vincent

The biblical subject is a pretext for the evocation of a colorfully mythicized Orient. The sinuousness of the body recalls Ingres, but this generous, sensual nude is characteristic of the female type invented by Chassériau.

Subject as pretext

The biblical theme serves not as matter for a religious painting, but as a pretext for a variation on the Oriental odalisque. Esther is a woman of the East, one of those creatures, all curves and arabesques, imagined by Ingres, whose pupil Chassériau was. And indeed the picture, exuding sensuality and the love of fluid feminine contours, is reminiscent of Ingres and his odalisques. Yet if Esther is rendered as an Oriental, this is not the case of the sky, the background or the two figures flanking her. The fabrics, jewelry and chromatic harmony that enhance Esther's dazzling body testify to Chassériau's admiration for Delacroix.


The Book of Esther tells the story of a young Jewish woman who, deported to Babylon, becomes queen of the Persians and saves the captive Jews from massacre. However, the narrative also echoes Oriental tales recounting the taming of a tyrant by a beautiful slave girl.

History of the painting

Hung at the Salon in 1842, this painting remained in the artist's family until being bequeathed to the Louvre in 1934 by one of his distant descendents, Baron Arthur Chassériau.

Technical description

  • Théodore CHASSÉRIAU (El Limón, near Samaná (Dominican Republic), 1819 - Paris, 1856)

    Esther Preparing Herself to Meet King Ahasuerus, also known as The Toilette of Esther


  • Oil on canvas

    H. : 0,45 m. ; L. : 0,35 m.

  • 1934

    La Toilette d'Esther

    R.F. 3900

  • Paintings

    Sully wing
    2nd floor
    Room 942

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