Cornelis Bisschop (Dutch, 1630-1674)
c. early 1660s
Oil on panel 
15-1/2 x 13-1/4 in. (39.4 x 33.7 cm) 
Credit Line:
The Norton Simon Foundation 
Accession Number:
© The Norton Simon Foundation 
Not on View

These paintings represent two different imaginings of the Old Testament story of David and Bathsheba. King David, looking out of his window, saw the beautiful Bathsheba washing herself and desired her. Though she was already married to Uriah, a soldier in his army, David sent a letter to her and she came to him, eventually becoming his wife and bearing a child named Solomon, who succeeded David on the throne.

The story of David and Bathsheba was a popular theme in seventeenth-century Dutch art, inspiring a range of interpretations that explored its erotic and moral aspects. Cornelius Bisschop’s painting collapses the narrative, showing David observing the nude Bathsheba at her fountain, though she already reads his love letter. Steen depicts Bathsheba receiving the letter in her home. The domestic setting emphasizes her status as a married woman, and highlights the unsteady moral grounds of the narrative. In both cases the figure of David, watching Bathsheba from his tower, reminds viewers of their own voyeuristic gaze.


Stephan von Auspitz, Vienna, in 1931/1932;
[Sanct Luca, Vienna, 1931 to];
Daniel George van Beuningen, Rotterdam by 1932.
[Kurt Walter Bachstitz Gallery, The Hague, 1932 as Maes].
Hans Ludwig Larsen (d. 1937), Noordwijk and Wassenaar, by descent to;
Mrs. H. L. Larsen (S. Larsen-Menzell, later called Mrs. Frank E. Brower); (sale, The Hague, van Marle & Bignell, 25 January 1943, no. 48, sold before the sale on 14 January 1943 to);
E. Göpel for the Führermuseum, Linz; bought through Posse by Hitler 1 March 1943;
Recovered and returned to Dutch government; after lengthy negotiations, Larsen’s estate refused restitution and the painting reverted to the government (sale, Amsterdam, Frederik Muller, 13-19 March 1951, no. 52, ill., as Maes, La Baigneuse);
[Martin B. Asscher, London, 1953].
W. A. Hofer, Berlin 1953.
Ch. van Spaendonck, Tilburg.
[Gebr. Douwes, Amsterdam 1968; sold 1969 to];
The Norton Simon Foundation.

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