Jacob Willemsz. de Wet I (Haarlem circa 1610-1675)
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the Fiery Furnace indistinctly signed (on step, lower right) oil on canvas 110.5 x 137.2cm (43 1/2 x 54in).
PROVENANCE: Private Collection, Austria, until 2009
The picture can be dated to circa 1650, as Dr. Schumacher kindly suggested.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are recorded in the Book of Daniel, Chapters 13, in which they are celebrated for their exclusive devotion to God. The present painting depicts an episode from the Worship of the Golden Idol (Daniel 3:12-26), when officials noticed that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were not bowing down to the idol. King Nebuchadnezzar was immediately notified and demanded that the three men come before him. When questioned, they responded: 'O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if He does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.' Nebuchadnezzar demanded that the execution furnace be heated to seven times its usual temperature. Upon approaching the mouth of the furnace, the fire was so hot that the soldiers perished while attempting to throw in the three tightly bound Jews, who then came forth, remaining unhurt by the fire.