Fall of Babylon

In April of 1893, Anthony Comstock threatened to seize and destroy Georges Antoine Rochegrosse’s painting,”The Fall of Babylon, or the Harem at Belshazzar’s Feast” which was en route to the U.S. aboard the ocean liner Bretagne.

“I don’t care who brings the picture here or where they intend to show it. If it is placed on exhibition I shall seize it,” Comstock said. “We don’t want such works of art in this country.”

The canvas, thirty-seven feet by twenty-seven feet high, portrayed Belshazzar’s banquet hall at the moment of the fulfillment of the warning read by Daniel from the handwriting on the wall. The Medes and Persians, under the command of Darius, diverted the waters of the River Euphrates and entered the city under the walls on the dry bed of the river, surprising the sleeping débauches.

Ultimately, Comstock did not appear at the picture’s exhibition in New York, and in 1901, “The Fall of Babylon” was a star attraction on the Midway at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, N.Y.


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