The Dead man restored to life by touching the bones of the prophet Elisha, (painting)
Appears in exhibition catalog as entry no. [not numbered]
"Size of picture 13 feet by 11. 'And the bands of the moabites invaded the land at the coming in of the year. And it came to pass as they were burying aman, that, behold, they spied a band of men, and they cast the man into the sepulchre of Elisha; and when the man was let down and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived. - 2 Kings, Chap XIII V. 20, 21.' The following description is taken from the pen of Mr. Allston: The sepulchre of Elisha is supposed to be in a cavern among the mountains; such places in those early ages being used for the interment of the dead. In the fore ground is the man at the moment of re-animation, in which the artist has attempted, both in the action and the colour, to express the gradual recoiling of life upon death; behind him, in a dark recesss, are the bones of the prophet, the skull of which is peculiarized by a preter- natural light; at his head and feet are two slaves, bearers of the body; the ropes still in their hands, by which they have let it down, indicating the act that moment performed; the emotion attempted in the figure at the feet is that of astonish- ment and fear, modified by doubt, as if still requiring further confirmation of the miracle before him, while in the figure at the head, is that of unqualified immoveable terror. In the most prominent groupe above, is a soldier, in the act of rushing from the scene; the violent and terrified action of this figure was chosen to illustrate the miracle by the contrast which it exhibits to that habitual firmness, supposed to belong to the military character, shewing his emotion to proceed from no mor- tal cause. The figure grasping the soldier's arm and pressing forward to look at the body, is expressive of terror, overcome by curiosity. The groupe on the left, or rather behind the soldier, is composed of two men of different ages, earnestly listening to the explanation of a priest, who is directing their thoughts to heaven, as the source of the miraculous change; the boy clinging to the old man, is too young to comprehend the nature of the miracle, but like children of his age, unconciously partakes of the general impulse. The groupe on the right forms an episode, consisting of the wife and daughter of the reviving man. The wife, unable to wishstand the conflicting emotions of the past and the present, has fainted; and whatever joy and astonishment may have been excited in the daughter by the sudden revival of her father, they are wholly absorbed in distress and solicitude for ther mother. The young man with outstretched arms, actuated by impulse (not motive) announces to the wife by a sudden exclamation, the revival of her husband; the other youth, of a mild and devotional character, is still in the attitude of one conversing - the conversation being abruptly broken off by his impetuous companion. The sentinals in the distance, at the entrance of the cavern, mark the depth of the picture, and indicate the alarm which occasioned this tumultuary burial." [P. 3-4.]
Exhibition at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, of Mr. Allston's Picture, of the Dead Man Restored to Life by touching the Bones of the Prophet Elisha. Together with many Valuable Paintings in addition to the Stationary Pictures of the Academy. May, 1816. Philadelphia: Printed by John Bioren, No. 88, Chestnut Street. 1816.