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Turner exhibited this picture in 1832, with a passage from the Bible (Daniel iii, 26). This told how Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego emerged unharmed from the fiery furnace they had been thrown into for refusing to worship Nebuchadnezzar's idol (visible in the distance).

Turner painted this to accompany a biblical picture by his friend George Jones, shown in the same exhibition (and also now in Tate's collection). Jones described this as 'Another instance of Turner's friendly contests in Art', adding that though the Hanging Committee gave Turner's picturethe best position, Turner had them swapped so that Jones would benefit.

February 2004