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Sr. Contributor

Lovis Corinth shows you what happens when children don't listen to their mother.

According to the Old Testament Book of Judges, Samson was born unto a barren woman under the very specific condition that his hair never be cut.  If she honored this condition, he would have superhuman strength and one day liberate the Israelites from their Philistine oppressors.  Unfortunately, Samson had a thing for shiksas.  He fell in love with a Philistine woman and asked his parents to arrange a marriage with her, to which they responded, “Why can’t you find yourself a nice, Jewish girl” (ok, not like Fran Drescher, but just about). Reluctantly, they agreed to the marriage.

At the wedding feast, Samson challenged his 30 Philistine groomsmen to a riddle. They told Samson’s bride if she didn’t get the answer for them, they would burn her father’s house down (perfectly reasonable demand).  She cried and nagged for seven days until Samson told her.  The Philistines then won the wager, which Samson paid by murdering 30 other Philistines and giving their tunics to the treacherous groomsmen.  When he tried to reclaim his bride, he found she had been given to his best man. Samson caught 300 foxes, tied their tails together, set them on fire and released them in the Philistine’s fields (like, duh, wouldn’t anyone?).  The Philistines blamed the poor, tossed-around bride and her father, and burned them both to death.

Absolutely heartbroken from the whole scenario, Samson then stopped in Gaza and banged a random prostitute for a while, in between killing 1,000 Philistines with the jawbone of an ass and carrying away the gates of the city. He later met Delilah, whom the Philistine’s had paid a ton of silver to betray him. The Bible gives us no picture of Delilah, but according to Hollywood, she looked like Hedy Lamarr. They spent some nights together, presumably having a lot of hot sex while she tried to discover the secret of his strength.  She then had his head shaved while he slept on her lap, and then sold him to the Philistines, who blinded him and used him for slave labor.

The Philistines just couldn’t quit while they were ahead, so they dragged him to their pagan temple so a crowd could jeer at him.  Some genius also had the bright idea of building the temple so that its entire weight rested on only two columns.  Samson called upon the Lord one last time and toppled the columns, crushing himself and 3,000 Philistines to death. Moral of the story: Shoulda married a nice Jewish girl.

Lovis Corinth painted this a year after suffering a stroke that left his strong arm paralyzed, limiting him to painting with his weak hand; this messy style is now know as German Expressionism.  He must have identified with the mutilated hero, and modeled Samson after his own image.  Unlike Samson, however, Corinth made good relationship choices. His wife Charlotte was devoted to him.  The story of Samson and Delilah was generally treated as a romantic fantasy in Western Art up until this point.  Corinth however, focuses on the psychological horror and gore of a Bible story with a higher body count than a Tarantino movie.