This picture was inspired by lines from the New Testament, including verses 37 and 38 from St Matthew's gospel, in which Christ foretells the destruction of Jerusalem:
'O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets,
and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often
would I have gathered thy children together, even as a
hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye
would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate'.
Eastlake incorporates a number of symbols which directly allude to Christ's prophecy. For example, the axe in the tree foreshadows Jerusalem's fall, while the shepherd carrying a sheep symbolises Christ as the good shepherd.
Gallery label, March 1993
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