King Ahab’s Coveting

King Ahabs Coveting, 1879
Thomas Matthew Rooke 1842 - 1942)
Oil on Canvas
BORGM 01891


Slideshow Shim

This ambitious work was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1879 as six separate paintings depicting Ahab’s Coveting that read from top to bottom and left to right. 1. Ahab covets or desires Naboth’s vineyard 2. Naboth refuses Ahab his vineyard 3. Jezebel promises Ahab it will be obtained by false witnesses 4. Elijah prophesises the end of Ahab and Jezebel 5. Jezebel is thrown to the dogs 6. Ahab’s body is brought in from the battlefield.

Merton noted in his autobiography: Rooke seemed to have a particular penchant for painting compositions depicting successive scenes of the same story, which were designed to be placed in one frame. Perhaps the finest of this class is ‘King Ahab’s Coveting’.

Purchased by Sir Merton Russell-Cotes from the Autumn Exhibition at The New Gallery, Regent Street, London in 1892.


Rooke studied at the Royal Academy Schools. In 1869, he applied to work at Morris and Company and was seconded to work as a Studio Assistant to Edward Burne-Jones, who was a director of the Company.

He worked for Burne-Jones for 30 years and became his friend. Rooke was involved in the creation of many of the works of Burne-Jones. Ruskin was looking for artists to record Renaissance buildings in Italy and the Continent which were threatened with demolition or restoration. Rooke took on this work producing many drawings and watercolours.