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Elijah in the Desert

Washington Allston1818

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

According to the Old Testament's Book of Kings, the Lord sent the prophet Elijah into the desert, where he miraculously was kept alive by ravens who brought him food. Allston used the landscape to convey the mood and meaning of Elijah's story. The barrenness of the desert's terrain is made vivid by the painting's gritty texture. The prophet, bent over like the root of the gnarled tree and clothed in colors that echo the blue and brown of the scenery, is barely distinguishable from his surroundings. This painting, given in 1870, was the first work of art in the Museum's collection.

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