This morning we showed you a detail from a painting on our social media pages. Did you recognize the painting? It is Ferdinand Bol’s Elisha refusing the gifts of Naaman from 1661 (on loan from Amsterdam Museum).
This painting shows us the Syrian warlord Naaman, visiting the prophet Elisha. Naaman suffered from leprosy and was advised to seek the council of Elisha, who in return told Naaman to take seven dips in the river Jordan. Being cured from his leprosy, Naaman returns to Elisha bearing gifts, which Elisha altruistically refuses.
On the right side of the painting, we see Elisha’s servant Gehazi standing in the doorway. As the Biblical tale continues, Gehazi followed Naaman and asked for the gifts. When Elisha found out about this, he punished Gehazi for his greed with leprosy.
Ferdinand Bol, one of Rembrandt’s most esteemed pupils, was commissioned by the regents of the Amsterdam leper home (‘Leprozenhuis’) to paint this Biblical scene. The virtue and altruism of Elisha could serve as an example for the regents of the leper home. Currently, this painting is on view in Rembrandt’s old house, The Rembrandt House Museum.