Signed and dated, lower right: B. West / 1800
Benjamin West here portrays the poignant moment described in the Old Testament when Hannah presents her son, Samuel, to the high priest Eli at the temple in Shiloh (1 Samuel 1:2–2:21). There Eli would raise Samuel, who grew to become a revered prophet. Hannah’s moving sacrifice arose from her earlier promise to God that, should he bless her with fertility, she would dedicate her son to the Lord. Here we sense Hannah’s humility as she lowers her head before Eli, and her mixed emotions as she touches her heart with one hand and gently nudges her son forward with the other. Eli, wearing the traditional high priest’s breastplate that signals both his stature and the presence of God at this important occasion, points upward toward the heavens as he meets Hannah’s eyes, while two sacrificial bulls brought by Hannah appear to look on from the right background.
West was the first American artist to achieve international success, influencing both American and European art after becoming the second president of the Royal Academy in London. His works often bridged stylistic movements. Here, Hannah and Samuel’s pure linear profiles reflect the then-popular neoclassical style, while the painting’s emotional content points toward Romanticism.
From the 2019 exhibition American Art, Colonial to Modern, curated by Barbara J. MacAdam, Jonathan L. Cohen Curator of American Art
American Art at Dartmouth: Highlights from the Hood Museum of Art, William B. Jaffe and Evelyn A. Jaffe Hall Galleries, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, June 9-December 9, 2007.
American Art, Colonial to Modern, Israel Sack Gallery and Rush Family Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, April 17, 2019-September 12, 2021.
Benjamin West and Other Early American Painters, McClees Galleries, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1936.
Benjamin West: 1738-1820, Pennsylvania Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1938, no. 51.
Ivan Abright Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, April 21, 2001-April 7, 2002.
Ivan Albright Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, August 27, 2002-September 21, 2003.
Ivan Albright Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, February 15, 2005.
Ivan Albright Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, October 8, 1993-June 22, 1997.
Ivan Albright Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, September 16, 1997-May 1, 2000.
Raphael- The Power of Renaissance Images: The Dresden Tapestries and their Impact, Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, Ohio, July 15-October 30, 2022.
Royal Academy, London, England, 1801, no. 688.
West's Gallery, London, England, 1822-28, no. 18
H. von Erffa and A. Staaley, The Paintings of Benjamin West, New Haven and London, 1986, p. 310, no. 272, illustrated.
J. Dillenberger, Benjamin West: The Context of His Life's Work, San Antonio, 1977, pp. 176 (378), 213.
J. Galt, The Life, Studies, and Works of Benjamin West, Esq., President of Royal Academy of London, London, 1820, Appendix II, p. 230.
"A Correct Catalogue of the Works of Benjamin West, Esq., "La Belle Assemblee or Bell's Court and Fashionable Magazine 4 (1808), Supplement, p. 18.
J. Barlow, The Columbiad. A Poem, Philadephia, 1807, p. 435.
"A Correct List of the Works of Mr. West," Universal Magazine 3 (1805), p. 531.
"A Correct Catalogue of the Works of Mr. West," Public Characters of 1805, 1805, p. 567.
Barbara J. MacAdam, American Art at Dartmouth: Highlights from the Hood Muesum of Art, Hanover: Trustees of Dartmouth College, 2007, p. 22, no. 2.
T. Barton Thurber, European Art at Dartmouth: Highlights from the Hood Museum of Art, Hanover: Trustees of Dartmouth College, 2008, p.75, ill., no. 31.
Allen Staley, Copley and West in England, 1775-1815, London: Burlington Press, 2021, pp. 82-86, ill. p. 83, fig. 45.
1800-1820, London, collection of the artist; 1820-1829, London, Raphael Lamar and Benjamin West, Jr.; Sale London, G.; Robins, 22-25 May 1829, no. 6; Bought by Albert Bloomfield House, Norwood, Surrey, Robert Hamilton; Sale, London, Foster, 16 March 1832, no. 205; Charles Meight, Esq., by 1850; Philadelphia, Reenaissance Galleries, by 1938; Sale, New York, Sotheby-Parke-Bernet, 17 December 1969, no. 90; Irvington, New York, Gloria and Richard Manney, 1969-93; Sale, New York, Sotheby's, 20 May 1993, no. 75; 1993 purchased by Dartmouth College from Robert Dance, Inc., New York, New York.