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Jean-François Millet, Landscape with Hagar and the Angel
Biblical - Historical - Mythologic
second half of the 17th century
Material and technique
oil on canvas
73 x 96 cm
Alessandro Zuccari
The subject of the painting is taken from Chapter 21 of the Book of Genesis, which tells the story of Abraham’s slave-woman and her son Ishmael who are lost in the desert of Beersheba. Without food or water, they await death until an angel appears before Hagar announcing that she will have a great line of offspring. The Flemish painters offers a liberal interpretation of the story: God’s messenger does not call Hagar from the sky but stands in front of her, pointing to a city, which does not appear in the Bible. The landscape is wholly imaginary: it is not a desert, as in the Old Testament story, but a pleasant landscape of wide meadows and leafy woods. Every carefully depicted element of nature contributes to the perfectly balanced composition, in a search for idyllic beauty.
Millet, who was born in Antwerp, creates a scene inspired by the early-seventeenth-century French landscape artists. Comparisons can also be made with the paintings of the same subject by Claude Lorrain and Nicolas Poussin, now in the National Gallery in London and the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica at Palazzo Barberini in Rome. There is also clear evidence of the influence of Gaspard Dughet, who provided Millet with his main model of reference.
Landscape with Hagar and the Angel
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