Joshua passing the River Jordan with the ark of the covenant
United States of America
10 Oct 1738 - 11 Mar 1820
Benjamin West was an American artist, self-taught but who went on to gain powerful patrons throughout the American Colonies and later in England for his history paintings. After touring Europe, West settled in London at the age of 25. Mixing with influential people, West was introduced to King George III, and was instrumental in gaining the king's support to found London's Royal Academy in 1771. After Sir Joshua Reynolds, West was the RA's second president. In 1772, West was appointed offical history painter to the court and Surveyor of the King’s Pictures.
The Ark of the Covenant was a gold-covered wooden chest described in the Bible's Book of Exodus as containing the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments. When, after 40 years of wandering the desert the Israelites arrived at the banks of the River Jordan, Joshua - Moses' successor - carried the Ark ahead to lead the Israelites' miraculous advance over the river towards the Promised Land.
Joshua passing the Jordan with the Ark of the Covenant
oil on wood panel
53.2 x 75.5 x 1 cm panel; 67.7 x 89.5 x 5.6 cm frame
Signature & date
Signed and dated l.c., black paint "B West 1800".
Shown in 4 exhibitions
Royal Academy of Arts, 1801, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1801–1801
Unknown, West's Gallery 1821, West's Gallery, London, 1821–1821
Pictures painted by the late Benjamin West, Esq., West's Gallery, London, 1822–1822
Regency - British Art & Design 1800-1830, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, 08 Apr 1998–14 Jun 1998
West, 1800-1826, England, Study for a painting intended for King George III. Sold by West's sons to the United States in 1826 (113).
Robins, 1826-22 May 1829, United States of America, Purchased by Robins at the West sale, lot 113
Albert, post 22 May 1829, Purchased by Albert, lot 45 'Joshua crossing the Jordan with the Ark'
Sabin Galleries Ltd., London, pre 06 Nov 1970, London/England, Purchased by the AGNSW from Sabin Galleries 1970
Referenced in 10 publications
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales picturebook, Sydney, 1972, 18 (colour illus.).
Dillenberger, West, 1977, 65, 70. pl. 47
Renée Free, Art Gallery of New South Wales catalogue of British paintings, Sydney, 1987, 211 (illus.).
Galt, Life of West, 1820, 211, 230.
Christopher Menz, Regency - British Art & Design 1800-1830, Adelaide, 1998, 29 (colour illus.), 74. cat.no. 127
J. Meyer, Art Bulletin, 1975, 264.
Peter Tomory and Robert Gaston, European Paintings before 1800 in Australian and New Zealand public collections, Sydney, 1989, 50 (illus.). no. 133
Helmut von Erffa and Allen Staley, The Paintings of Benjamin West, 1986, 97, 104 (colour illus.), 581. cat. 270
West's Gallery, A catalogue of pictures painted by the late Benjamin West, Esq. president of the Royal Academy, 1822. cat.no. 110
Author Unknown, Biblica: The Bible Atlas, 2007, (illus.).