Claude Gellee

Landscape with Jacob, Rachel and Leah at the Well

Landscape with Jacob, Rachel and Leah at the Well
(click image to zoom-in)
Author: Claude Gellee
Landscape, Painting, Oil on canvas, 113x157сm
Origin: France, 1666

"Landscape with Jacob, Rachel and Leah by the Well" has traditionally been placed within the series of the "Four Times of the Day". It was painted for one of Lorrain's permanent clients, Henrich van Halmale, the dean of the Antwerp cathedral.

The subject of the painting is the story from the book of Genesis relating how Jacob set off to see Laban, a relative of his mother's, in order to save himself from the anger of his brother Esau over the blessing of their father which he received by deception. When he stopped by a well, he met there Laban's daughter Rachel, who was driving sheep to a watering-place, and he fell in love with her. Departing from the text, Lorrain has depicted in the painting the figure of Leah, Rachel's sister, who is not mentioned in this part of the biblical text. The second inaccuracy relates to the time of the day when the event occurs. Jacob says to the shepherds, ?Lo, it is yet high day, neither is it time that the cattle should be gathered together? . This indicates daytime or pre-evening hours, not early morning as depicted in the painting. The rays of the rising sun break through the clouds, illuminating the tops of the trees and the ruins of an ancient temple. The light gradually floods the plain, but the entire foreground of the painting is lit with only feeble reflected rays, diffuse and mild. Thus by using illumination, the artist emphasizes the harmony between human feelings and what is occurring in nature.

Personage: Jacob
Style: Classicism
Source of entry: Collection of Empress Josephine, Malmaison, 1815
Theme: The Bible and Christianity

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