The University Record, March 1, 1993

Painting, companion drawings reunited here after 350-year separation

“Esther before Ahasuerus” left the studio of Italian Baroque master Il Guercino in 1639. More than 350 years later, the painting of the Old Testament queen will be reunited with five of the six original drawings Guercino made. Drawings on loan from collections at Oxford Uni-versity; Melbourne, Australia; and Arkansas join this work from the Museum of Art’s permanent collection, on display March 7–May 16.

The exhibition, “In Focus: Guercino’s Esther” will open at 2 p.m. Sunday (March 7) with a panel discussion in Auditorium B of Angell Hall, followed by a reception at the Museum of Art.

Panelists include Michael V. Fox, the Max and Frieda Weinstein-Bascom Professor in Jewish Studies at the University of Wisconsin, discussing “The Esther Texts”; Katheryn Pfisterer Darr, assistant professor of Old Testament, Boston University, “Esther as Heroine”; Michael Brooks, executive director, B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundation, Ann Arbor, “The History of the Celebration of Purim”; Shelley K. Perlove, associate professor of the history of art, “Esther in 17th-century Art”; and Leslie Griffin Hennessey, specialist in religious art of the 18th century and its relationship to music, “Old Testament and Apocryphal Heroines in 18th-century Art and Oratorio.” Nan Plummer, curator of the exhibition, will moderate.

Other events include

March 9, 7:30 p.m., Museum of Art, composer Donald Bryant discusses composing a new oratorio based on the painting “Esther before Ahasuerus.” Bryant is director of music at the First Presbyterian Church in Ann Arbor.

March 13, 8 p.m., Museum of Art, the final concert in the Museum’s chamber series features excerpts from Handel’s oratorio Esther and the premiere of Bryant’s work on the Esther theme. A 7 p.m. tour of the exhibition precedes the concert. Call 747-0521 for ticket information.

March 14, 1 p.m., Museum of Art, puppeteer and storyteller Marilyn Price relates the Old Testament story of Queen Esther, whose courageous confrontation with the King of Persia saved the Jewish people from certain death.

March 19, 4 p.m., Museum of Art, poet Mark Nepo will read his work “Esther before Ahasuerus” in front of the painting. Nepo, who is a member of the English faculty at the State University of New York, Albany, is the winner of the 1987 Ithaca House Series competition.