Simon Gribelin

Tent of Darius

Tent of Darius by Simon Gribelin

Artwork Detail

This print is a copy of Gérard Edelinck’s printed reproduction (1671) of Charles Le Brun’s painting Tent of Darius (1661-1662). King Louis XIV commissioned Le Brun to paint a scene from the history of Alexander the Great and Le Brun chose to depict the story of Alexander and Hephestion visiting the captured relatives of the vanquished Persian King Darius after the Battle of Issus. Darius had fled the battle scene, leaving his wife, mother, daughters and other members of the court at the mercy of Alexander. When Alexander and his friend Hephestion entered the royal tent the women thought that they would be killed and began to plead for their lives. Sisygambis, Darius’s mother, mistook Hephestion for Alexander and bowed before him. When Alexander was presented as the correct leader she fell at his feet, begging his pardon for fear that she would be punished. Alexander reassured her, saying “You were not mistaken, Mother; this man too is Alexander”. LeBrun’s painting celebrates Alexander’s self-control, compassion and kindness, which were viewed as essential “kingly virtues” in the 17th century. This was the first reproduction of a history painting produced by Gribelin; he would subsequently specialise in producing such copies. The print was used as the frontispiece for André Félibien’s “The tent of Darius explained, or, The queen of Persia at the feet of Alexander”, the English translation of which was published in 1703. Félibien’s 1663 book extolled the artistic and intellectual qualities of Le Brun’s painting and was initially presented as a letter to King Louis XIV. George Vertue, a British printmaker and art commentator, criticised Gribelin for copying Edelinck’s print rather than returning to the original painting for inspiration.

Tent of Darius
Simon Gribelin
Production date
280 x 364 mm
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, gift of Ann Andrews and Robert Newton, 2017
Accession no
No known copyright restrictions
International Art
Display status
Not on display

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