The Sacrifice of Isaac, 1655

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Theologian Martin Buber observed that in the Old Testament, "to believe means to follow the will of God." Rembrandt might add, even without visible proof. In this introspective work, in which Abraham is poised to offer up his son, Rembrandt favors hearing over seeing. Abraham's eyes are darkened, and he covers his son's eyes. It is words that prompt the bewildered, uncomprehending look on his face as a voice behind his ear says, "Do nothing to him" (Genesis 22: 12).

The angel, whom the Dutch Statenbijbel (1637) says is God himself, embraces Abraham and protects him with its wings while concealing the substitute ram, barely discernible at left. The salver, no longer needed for Isaac's blood, forecasts Christ's sacrifice in the New Testament.

The Sacrifice of Isaac
Artist Life
1606 - 1669
Accession Number
D. G. de Arozarena, blue stamp verso (L.109).
Catalogue Raisonne
Hind 283 os; B.35; Mz.184 os; Holl. 35 os; B-B. 55-B
Curator Approved

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