Sebastiano Ricci

Abraham and the Angels

Abraham and the Angels
(click image to zoom-in)
Author: Sebastiano Ricci
Painting, Oil on canvas, 285x222 cm
Origin: Italy, Circa 1694

In the Old Testament we read of the meeting between Abraham, the first of the great Hebrew patriarchs, and the three angels who symbolized the Holy Trinity , but until the 17th century the subject was rarely treated in Italian art. After the Reformation, the range of themes available to artists broadened considerably.

According to the Holy Scripture, Abraham was sitting at the tent door in the heat of the day when three men appeared before him. He welcomed them and with the traditional hospitality of the nomad brought them food, not knowing that they were angels. Over the meal one of the visitors predicted that Abraham's childless and ageing wife Sarah would bring him a son.

Ricci shows the final moment in the story when the angels reveal themselves to Abraham and predict his future. In fright and reverence the old man falls to his knees. Energetic gestures, large flowing folds of drapery and impressive light contrasts are combined within a balanced, strict composition.

The art of Sebastiano Ricci started the period of heyday of 18th-century Venetian painting.

Personage: Abraham
Source of entry: Museum of the Academy of Arts, Petrograd, 1922
School: Venetian
Theme: The Bible and Christianity

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