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Seaport with the Embarkation of the Queen of Sheba

Photo credit: The National Gallery, London

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This painting depicts an episode from the Old Testament: the Queen of Sheba embarking on her journey to see King Solomon in Jerusalem. Crowned and dressed in red, the Queen descends the steps. The meeting was often painted, but it was unusual to depict the Queen’s embarkation. The soft warm light of sunrise typical of Claude’s idealised seascapes captures the gentle ripples of the water, undersides of the clouds and foliage, and silhouettes of the boats. The classical buildings on either side create a symmetrical and balanced scene, and reflect the many years Claude spent working in Rome. The name of the man who commissioned the painting, the Duc de Bouillon (1605–1652), is inscribed on the last step in the bottom right corner, showing his interest in the subject.

The National Gallery, London



Seaport with the Embarkation of the Queen of Sheba




Oil on canvas


H 149.1 x W 196.7 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Bought, 1824

Work type



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The National Gallery, London

Trafalgar Square, London, Greater London WC2N 5DN England

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