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George Dawe’s painting was among the first he exhibited publicly after graduating from the Royal Academy schools in 1803 with a gold medal for historical painting. Taken from the Old Testament Book of Ruth, Dawe shows the moment when Naomi, returning to Bethlehem, entreats her daughters-in-law Ruth and Orpah to stay in their native city Moab and remarry after the death of her two sons, their husbands. Orpah reluctantly leaves, while Ruth vows to stay loyal to Naomi. While true to the sentiment of the original story, Dawe has dressed his protagonists in fashionable Regency white muslin.

October 2013