- Reference number
- Veronese, Paolo
- The Sacrifice of Isaac
- Ca. 1586
- 129 cm x 95 cm
- On display
- Royal Collection (Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, El Escorial-Madrid, “sacristía”, 1839)
An image of the Old Testament scene (Genesis 22, 1-19) in which, on the orders of God, Abraham prepares to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Seeing that Abraham follows his orders with blind faith, God accepts this as proof of his faithfulness and sends an angel to save Isaac at the last moment, ordering that a lamb be sacrificed in his place. This passage from the Bible is understood as a foreshadowing of Christ's sacrifice on the Cross.
The main scene occurs in the foreground, with a semi-nude Isaac being held on the sacrificial altar by his father, Abraham, whose right hand bears the knife. An angel holds his arm in order to stop the sacrifice.
Like others from the fifteen eighties, this late work merges the characters into the landscape. The figures are ordered diagonally. The angel and Isaac are luminous, but the former's light casts the surprised patriarch's face into shadow.
This work was acquired at the auction of the belongings of Charles I of England and was installed at the Monastery of El Escorial, where it remained until entering the Prado Museum collection in 1837.