(b. 1436, Siena, d. after 1518, Siena)

The Meeting of Jephthah and his Daughter

c. 1470
Tempera on panel, 32 x 82 cm
Private collection

Jephthah was a great Old Testament (Judges 11:30-40) warrior, who was called upon to lead the Israelites in their war against the Ammonites. On the eve of the battle he made a pact with God, that, in return for victory, he would sacrifice 'the first creature that comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return'. The battle won, 'who should come out to meet him with tambourines and dances but his daughter, and she only a child'.

The painting, probably part of the furnishing of a domestic interior, shows Jephthah daughter and her maidens stepping forward to welcome him on his arrival. Jephthah, on a black horse, clutches his breast in despair. The soldiers wave olive branches to symbolize the peace that will follow their victory.

The attribution to Benvenuto di Giovanni is debated, various other artists including Pietro di Domenico, Francesco di Giorgio and Girolamo di Benvenuto were also suggested.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.