Early California Antiques Shop

The Expulsion of Hagar and Ishmael - Allegorical Painting 17th Century Dutch Mannerist School c 1680s P3262

Regular price $3,000.00

Painted on a wood panel measuring 14 3/8" x 21 1/16", its frame measures 18 1/16" x 24 1/2". The artist is unknown.

What allegory this painting represented provided us a fascinating mystery at first. The very specificities of the figures and objects and place delighted and puzzled us quite a bit. While studying other works of the Northern Mannerist school we found a splendid painting by Abraham Bloemaert known by this title that reproduced the characters and setting we find in this painting. And more paintings on the subject soon confirmed it. So here's the story...

The subject of the painting was taken from the Book of Genesis. It depicts the episode of the expulsion of Hagar and her son Ishmael by Abraham. According to the Genesis, Hagar was the slave of Sarah, Abraham's wife, and when he was 86 years old, she asked him to sleep with Hagar so that she could conceive a son. Fourteen years later, Sarah gave birth to a son, Isaac, to Abraham, who was 100 years old. Sarah ordered Abraham to send Hagar and Ishmael away, which he did, after being assured by God that it was done in accordance with His will.

The artist chose the moment when Abraham dismisses Hagar. All four characters are in the picture. Abraham is traditionally depicted with a beard and a turban. He is facing the slave. At her side hangs a travel pouch. Behind Hagar's back, in the house, looking away from the group, seemingly occupied with her babies, is Sarah. She is responsible for the whole situation, but despite being turned away, we imagine her listening carefully to the conversation. Holding his mother's hand is Ishmael crying. Abraham seems to be torn apart. The gesture of this hands express that perfectly, one even seeming to be blessing the two surreptitiously. The pathos, and cruelty, and psychological truth of this story made this a favorite subject in art, especially in this period.

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