The epic tale of David and Bathsheba, a classic example of a powerful man and a powerless woman, is told in the eleventh and twelfth chapters of 2nd Samuel in the Hebrew Bible, where Bathsheba is depicted as the beautiful daughter of Eliam and wife of Uriah the Hittite, one of King David’s generals and later, became one of the wives of King David and the mother of Solomon, who succeeded David as king, making her the Queen mother.
The story begins with King David choosing to stay home in Jerusalem while Uriah, along with the rest of the Israelite army is sent to fight against the other nations and kings. One day, when David was relaxing on the roof of his palace, he was sexually attracted by a beautiful woman bathing on her roof and sent his messenger to find her whereabouts. After that, despite knowing that she was married to one of his generals, he summoned her immediately and when she obliged the king, he slept with her. It is unknown, whether the king raped her or the sex between David and Bathsheba was entirely mutual, but there is no reason to believe that Bathsheba was a willing participant in David’s sexual conquest, because David was the king and no woman in his kingdom would have the courage or to deny his sexual advances. She was consequently impregnated by the king and the information made the king nervous that his adultery would make a scandal.
In his desperate effort to conceal his misdeed, David summoned Uriah from the army, expecting him to have sex with his wife and believe that the child belonged to him. But his plan failed, because Uriah did not want to violate the code of conduct of the ancient kingdom, applicable to the warriors in active service and instead of going home and sleeping with his wife, he preferred to remain with the palace troops.
As his plan failed, David instructed his army commander to place Uriah on the front lines of the battle, where Uriah would be more likely to die. Consequently, when Uriah was killed in the siege of Rabbah, Bathsheba, after her days of mourning, was brought to King David to be his wife and give birth to Solomon. However, David's action displeased the Israelite god Yahweh and the prophet Nathan was sent to confront him directly in a prophetic oracle, holding him accountable for his sin. But that is another story.
Bathsheba is an important figure in the development of nudity in medieval art and apart from Eve, she is pretty much the only woman in Christian art, who could easily and often justify depictions of nudity. Although sometimes depicted clothed, the depiction of Bathsheba bathing is more common in medieval and later art. However, different artists in different ages created her image in varying degrees of nudity, depending on her pose and the position of the dress or towel.
Benjamin Victor, a renowned contemporary American sculptor, who is carrying the torch of the classical style in his realistic clay and bronze sculptures and whose extensive body of work recalls masters like Michelangelo and Italian sculptor and architect Gian Lorenzo Bernini, depicted the Biblical character of Bathsheba in his work Soaked Bathsheba as a statuesque young woman with a beautiful sexy body, long flowing hair and graceful pose in a long wet dress.
Made in both clay and bronze, the life-size sculpture reflects her image according to the Biblical story, by capturing the figure in a long, wet dress that clings to her body, as she was described while meeting King David after stepping out of the bath. Apart from carefully creating the softness of her alluring figure with flowing golden hair, he masterly created the transparency of the damp clothing, intimately clinging to her body to fully exhibit the attractive curvatures of her seductive body. Even the heavy shawl she carries in her hands appears to be neatly folded and draped behind her feet, just like a real piece of cloth. Bathsheba is captured by Benjamin Victor in a sensual, yet apprehensive pose, holding drapery, which spills behind her, revealing the curvature of her beautiful figure. Her voluptuous form, full of delight and pleasure to the senses, is deeply intensified by the sheer drapery, which clings to her body.