October 11, 2017
Jehudo Epstein (1870-1945), Dying Job, 1901, oil on canvas, 55 1/2 x 97 1/2 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, purchased with funds provided by the Bertin Family Foundation.
Today’s artwork is a highlight from the MOA’s collection of religious artworks. Reared in a small village in Russia, artist Jehudo Epstein received a traditional Jewish education with little encouragement to pursue a career in art. Much to his father’s disappointment and without a knowledge of the German language, he went to Vienna and there attended the Academy of Fine Arts. His paintings of Jewish people and everyday life as well as Old Testament motifs dominated his work.
In this piece, friends surround Job’s tormented body with heads bowed in critical resignation. Job has lost his wealth, health, posterity, and the loyalty of his family and friends. But perhaps the greatest loss was the withdrawal of support and comfort from the Lord. Crying earnestly to the Lord, Job begins his anguished plea for relief and for answers: “Wherefore hidest thou thy face, and holdest me for thine enemy?” Yet Job holds fast to his faith in the Lord as he proclaims “though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.”