The king’s bet


The artist Nicolas Poussin shows a season of the year in this painting. Can you guess which one? It’s harvest time. In the fields, peasants are getting ready to collect wheat. It seems to be a hot day. The trees are a dark green. It’s summer, of course!

In the foreground, a woman kneels before a well-dressed man. What do you think she is doing? She is asking him for something, but what?

The story comes from the Bible. The woman is called Ruth and the man is called Boaz. He is the owner of the field. When her husband died, Ruth emigrated to Bethlehem in Judea. She was very poor, and is shown here asking Boaz to let her pick up the scraps in his fields. Boaz allows her to collect the sheaves of wheat that were not harvested. Later, he will marry her, making Ruth the great-grandmother of King David. Quite a story, don’t you think?

The king of France Louis XIV acquired this painting for the royal collections in an unusual way. Do you want to know how?