Mead Art Museum/Amherst College

As if in benediction, Ahasuerus places his hands on the newly chosen queen in The Coronation of Esther by the American painter William Rimmer (1816–1879). The Book of Esther portrays the king as obviously fond of his queen; on several occasions he says to her, albeit rhetorically, that he is willing to grant up to half his kingdom to her. Esther, for her part, feels enough confidence in Ahasuerus’ good graces to risk her life by appearing in front of him unbeckoned to invite him to a banquet at which she plans to denounce Haman.