Abraham and Isaac (1634) by Rembrandt van Rijn

Abraham and Isaac - Rembrandt van Rijn - 1634

Artwork Information

TitleAbraham and Isaac
ArtistRembrandt van Rijn
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions193 x 132 cm
Current LocationHermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg, Russia

About Abraham and Isaac

Dutch artist Rembrandt van Rijn’s painting and etching of Abraham and Isaac depict the Biblical story of God’s command for Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac. The painting from 1634 is a masterpiece that captures the psychological interaction between father and son in the story. Rembrandt was fascinated by this subject, which led him to make multiple versions of it during his career.

The painting presents a highly dramatic scene where Abraham is about to plunge the knife into Isaac while an angel stops him at the last minute. The dark background adds to its intensity, highlighting each facial expression with precision. The use of chiaroscuro technique emphasizes the dramatic nature of the scene.

Rembrandt created a similar painting named “The Sacrifice of Isaac” in 1635 that is held in the Hermitage Museum. Besides, he also made an etching in 1645 not depicting at all the moment of sacrifice but instead focusing on painful moments preceding it. However, a small panel painting by Rembrandt depicting this scene is expected to sell for a whopping $20-30 million at an auction in 2021.

Overall, Rembrandt’s exceptional mastery over dramatic lighting and composition reveal his talent as one of history’s great artists who had a remarkable ability to portray powerful moral tales through his works effectively.

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