ANDRÉ DURAND Twenty-First Century Paintings
DANIEL IN THE LION'S DEN
Dimensions: 116.5 X 116.5
Oil on linen
The tale of the Jewish prophet Daniel’s ordeal by lions is told in evocative detail in the Greek apocryphal addition to the canonical biblical Book of Daniel, The History of the Destruction of Bel and the Dragon.
33 Now there was in Jewry a prophet, called Habbacuc, who had made pottage, and had broken bread in a bowl, and was going into the field, for to bring it to the reapers.
34 But the angel of the Lord said unto Habbacuc, Go, carry the dinner that thou hast into Babylon unto Daniel, who is in the lions’ den.
35 And Habbacuc said, Lord, I never saw Babylon; neither do I know where the den is.
36 Then the angel of the Lord took him by the crown, and bare him by the hair of his head, and through the vehemency of his spirit set him in Babylon over the den.
37 And Habbacuc cried, saying, O Daniel, Daniel, take the dinner, which God hath sent thee.
38 And Daniel said, Thou hast remembered me, O God: neither hast thou forsaken them that seek thee and love thee.
39 So Daniel arose, and did eat: and the angel of the Lord set Habbacuc in his own place again immediately.
40 Upon the seventh day the king went to bewail Daniel: and when he came to the den, he looked in, and behold, Daniel was sitting.
41 Then cried the king with a loud voice, saying, Great art Lord God of Daniel, and there is none other beside thee.
42 And he drew him out, and cast those that were the cause of his destruction into the den: and they were devoured in a moment before his face.
DURAND’S DANIEL IN THE LION’S DEN AT THE LONDON ZOO
The Asian lion is the lion of the Bible and of the Roman arena, and is most likely the fearsome feline that surrounded Daniel when the young prophet of André Durand’s picture was cast into their midst. For this reason Durand, with sensitive attention to historical detail, chose to depict Lucifer, Ruchi and Abi, the Asian lions in the London Zoo, for his picture.
Peter Paul Rubens
Daniel in the Lions’ Den 1615
National Gallery of Art Washington, D.C.
Durand, like Rubens in his splendid picture of the same subject, has masterfully combined realism and theatricality to produce a strong emotional impact, but none of Durand’s lions stare directly at the viewer, as they do in the Rubens. Durand has managed to draw the spectator into his picture un-menaced by the feline predators, and hath shut the lions’ mouths. Instead, the artist invites us to partake with Daniel of the meal Habakkuk has set at his feet.
Like one of the subjects depicted in the art of the Roman catacombs, Durand’s fearless Daniel, his palms upturned in the Orans position – a custom of praying in antiquity with outstretched, raised arms, common to both Jews and Gentiles – gives thanks to God for Habakkuk’s pottage and bread. We can almost hear the young prophet praying,Thou hast remembered me, O God: neither hast thou forsaken them that seek thee and love thee.
Daniel flanked by Cyrus and Habakkuk
The Dogmatic Sarcophagus before and after restoration
Photographs by M.Pardy