Simeon With The Infant Jesus

Benjamin West

American, 1738 - 1820

Simeon with the Infant Jesus, ca. 1796

  • Not On View

Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 48 × 25 5/8 in. (121.9 × 65.1 cm)

Gift of Mr. Stanley Gillen, 1972.1

Benjamin West was the first American artist to gain international acclaim and to influence developments in European painting. He was born in 1738 in Springfield, Pennsylvania, about ten miles west of Philadelphia, the youngest of ten children. His father had emigrated to Pennsylvania from England in 1715 or 1716. Edward Penington, a distant cousin, taught West to paint and invited the nine-year-old to Philadelphia. By the age of fifteen he was considered a prodigy and sold a few of his paintings for a pound or two, then a considerable sum.Simeon with the Infant Jesus shows the Presentation of the Infant Jesus to the Lord in the Temple. Mary and Joseph are at the right of the scene. On the floor next to Mary, a caged pair of turtledoves can be seen in the shadows. As was customary, the birds had been brought to the temple as a sacrifice. The elderly Saint Simeon, who had been promised he would live long enough to see Jesus, holds the Infant Jesus in his arms, and gazes upward toward the Lord. Behind him is Saint Anna the Prophetess, who referred to Infant Jesus as the Redeemer.

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