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During the 1830s, Turner took up religious themes which reflected his study of earlier painters such as Rembrandt. Such subjects required him to confront the challenge of painting figures, which he admitted 'are not my style'. Not surprisingly, he made some false starts, and this is probably a picture which was abandoned as unsatisfactory while still in progress, rather than a separate sketch or study. It was probably begun as a companion New Testament subject to his Old Testament Shadrach, Meshech and Abednego (in Tate Collection) exhibited in 1832. It is painted on an identical mahogany panel from the same supplier.

August 2004