Frederic, Lord Leighton

Samson Carrying the Gate

published 1881

View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Wood engraving on paper
Image: 168 x 187 mm
Presented by Gilbert Dalziel 1924

Display caption

This is one of the most powerful designs Leighton contributed to the Bible Gallery. It illustrates an episode from the story of Samson. Trapped in the city of Gaza, surrounded by Philistines who want revenge, Samson decides to frighten his assailants by ripping off the city gates. Here he is shrouded in the enormous gates which he decides to carry on his back to Mount Hebron.

Leighton creates a web of hatching to highlight Samson’s muscular figure. The contrasting areas of light and dark and the strong verticals contribute to the intensity and drama of the biblical subject.

Gallery label, November 2004