• Jacob Burying Laban's Images

    Artist:
    Bourdon, Sébastien. 1616-1671
    Technique:
    oil
    Dimensions:
    95x129 cm

Bourdon, Sébastien. 1616-1671

Jacob Burying Laban's Images

France, 1637 (?)

According to the Biblical text, Jacob's sons avenged their sister Dinah, who had been dishonoured by the son of the ruler of Shechem, by sacking the city and killing all its inhabitants and taking the strange gods together with all other property. Jacob was displeased with the action of Simeon and Levi and ordered his retainers to throw out the idols and cleanse themselves. "And they gave unto Jacob all the strange gods which were in their hand, and all their earrings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak which was by Shechem" (Genesis 35, 4). The choice of this rather rare subject, which was repeated several times in Bourdon's work, is possibly linked to the artist's faith. Montpelier, his native city, was a bastion of Protestant faith in the south of France and was taken by royal troops during the renewed persecution of Huguenots; many inhabitants left the city. Surely Bourdon saw in the history of Jacob an analogy with his own situation and the situation of his co-religionists. The decision to foreswear strange gods and erect an altar to "God, Who heard me on my day of need" must have suited the mood of Protestants, who stubbornly preserved their faith amidst the Catholic majority. In the painting we feel the influence of works by Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione, but at the same time the artist displays the beginnings of an attraction to the painting of Poussin, as we see principally in the division of the composition into foreground and background and in the drawing of the two female figures in the lower right corner of the painting. This allows us to date the work to the first half of the 1640s.

Title:

Jacob Burying Laban's Images

Place:

Date:

Material:

Technique:

oil

Dimensions:

95x129 cm

Acquisition date:

Entered the Hermitage in 1931; handed over by the Antikvariat All-Union Association; originally in the the Pavlovsk Palace near St Petersburg

Inventory Number:

ГЭ-7481

Category:

Collection: