The subject is taken from the book of 2 Samuel of the Old Testament (11: 2–3). Bathsheba was the wife of the military commander Uriah, who was in the service of King David. David saw Bathsheba when she was bathing and ordered to send Uriah to his doom, whereafter he took Bathsheba into his palace. As punishment for this sin, David’s first-born died on his seventh day. Bryullov was interested not so much in the subject itself as in ancient oriental culture and its spicy beauty. The motif of a naked body illuminated by the sun allowed the artist to show off his decorative gift. The face of the heroine remains in the shade, but her silhouette is partly lit creating a feeling of living flesh. Coloured overtones are placed here and there on the canvas. The marble-like whiteness of her skin contrasts with the black servant’s figure bringing into the painting a light hint of eroticism.
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