Abraham and Isaac

Abraham and Isaac
Circa 1645
Etching and engraving
Paper: 6 1/4 x 5 1/8 in.
A good impression of the only state, still with a touch of burr on the hem of Isaac’s tunic, on paper with a Hare watermark.
Ex collection Hendikus Egbertus ten Cate (L. 535b) A duplicate from Orszagos Képtar, Budapest (L. 2000)
(B., HOLL. 34; H. 214; BB. 45-D)

Rembrandt produced around 300 prints during his lifetime, many of them of biblical scenes. This etching shows a story from the Old Testament, in which God is testing Abraham’s faith by ordering him to sacrifice his son Isaac.

Father and son are seen in near profile, intensely engaged in dialogue. As Isaac innocently asks, where the lamb for the offering is, Abraham replies, gesturing towards heaven, that God will provide one.

Rembrandt depicts father and son in a highly dramatic moment, confronting the young boy’s innocence and complete trust in his father with Abraham’s torment between the love of his child and his obedience to God.

Rembrandt draws attention to the father’s inner conflict, by portraying him with the right hand on his heart, the left pointing upwards.

The figures of this image are carefully executed in short, hatched lines, while longer lines predominate in the background. Vivid shadows behind Isaac’s body heighten the tension of this emotional scene.

This print counts among the most moving of Rembrandt’s oeuvre, in which the artist masterly captures genuine human emotion.