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Abraham and the three Angels
Bramer, Leonaert
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Bramer, Leonaert

Delft, 1596 - Delft, 1674

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Abraham and the three Angels

Ca. 1640. Oil on panel.
Room 076

The date of this painting has been the subject of critical debate for over a century. The 1889 edition of the Prado catalogue states that it was signed but fails to mention a date. The 1910 version describes it as being signed and dated in 1620. The question is not addressed in subsequent publications until that of 1985, which refers to it as being signed and dated in 1630, the year that is again mentioned in the 1996 edition. Wichmann (1923) accepts this date but Brink Goldsmith (1994) questions it, suspecting that Wichmann did not study the painting firsthand, and assigns the work to the end of the 1630s. As a result of the cleaning process carried out for the purpose of the present catalogue, the signature and year are now visible at the base of the fallen column.

However, they are badly deteriorated, particularly the date, which would appear to be 1640 with infrared reflectography. The scene has traditionally been interpreted as the visit paid by the three angels to Abraham (Genesis 18:1-3). This biblical episode was rarely addressed in earlier or contemporary painting and it is therefore likely that Bramer intended it as a testimony to his erudition. The setting would appear to stem from this same wish: Abraham is not portrayed outside the entrance to his tent, as in the Bible account, but by a large portico inspired by the Arco degli Argentari of the Boarian Forum, one of the Roman monuments most widely represented by painters in the seventeenth century. In this context, the ruins depicted in the background could be an allusion to the Bible passage that follows: the arrival of two of these angels in Sodom to announce to Lot the destruction of the city (Genesis 19:1-3) -a theme the artist also explored in a drawing.

Until 1985 Abraham and the Three Angels was listed in the Prado catalogues as the companion piece to Hecuba`s Grief.

However, despite their stylistic similarity, the works differ in support and size and, above all, in argument, since there is no relationship whatsoever between the biblical theme of the former and the mythological subject matter of the latter (Posada Kubissa, T.: Pintura holandesa en el Museo Nacional del Prado. Catálogo razonado, 2009, p. 298).


Technical data

Inventory number
Bramer, Leonaert
Abraham and the three Angels
Ca. 1640
Height: 47 cm; Width: 74 cm
Royal Collection (Casita del Príncipe, El Escorial-Madrid, 1779, nº 52; Casita del Príncipe, El Escorial-Madrid, h, 1787, nº 52; Casita del Príncipe, El Escorial-Madrid, 1801, nº 52).

Bibliography +

Inventario de las Pinturas del Museo Hecho a la Muerte del Rey Fernado VII, Madrid, 1834, pp. nº82.

Wichmann, Heinrich, Leonaert Bramer, sein Leben und seine Kunst, Leipzig, 1923, pp. 27 y 94, nota I.

Zarco Cuevas, Julian, Cuadros reunidos por Carlos IV, siendo Príncipe, en su Casa de campo de El Escorial., Imprenta del Monasterio, El Escorial, 1934, pp. 14.

Salas, Xavier de, Museo del Prado. Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1972.

Valdivieso, Enrique, Pintura Holandesa del siglo XVII en españa, Universidad, Valladolid, 1973.

Claudio de Lorena y el ideal clásico de paisaje en el siglo, Ministerio de Cultura, Dirección General de Bellas, Madrid, 1984, pp. 84, nº14.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 84.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: inventario general de pinturas (I) La Colección Real, Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1990, pp. nº1472.

Buendía, José Rogelio, El Prado. Colecciones de Pintura, Lunwerg Editores, Madrid, 1994, pp. 449.

Brink Goldsmith, Jane ten, Leonaert Bramer 1596-1674. Ingenious Painter and Draugthman in Rome and Delft, Delft, 1994, pp. nº28.

Posada Kubissa, Teresa, Pintura holandesa en el Museo Nacional del Prado. Catálogo razonado, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2009, pp. 36-38.

Cenalmor Bruquetas, Elena, Nuevas obras de Leonaert Bramer en el Museo del Prado, Boletín del Museo del Prado, XXXI, 2013, pp. 6-17 [6,12].

Other inventories +

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1873-1907. Núm. 1211.
1211.-(1459-N.)-Abraham y los tres ángeles.-Com- / pañero del anterior. / Alto 0,47; ancho 0,74.-T.

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 1472.
Bramer. / 1472. Abraham y los tres ángeles. / El patriarca se postra en presencia de ellos y les da hospedage. / Cuadro compañero del num. 1459. (tabla.) / Alto 1 pie, 8 pulg; ancho 2 pies, 8 pulg.

Inv. Casita del Príncipe (Escorial), 1779. Núm. 52.
Otro, en tabla, que representa a Abraham cuando recibe los tres Ágeles, de vara escasa de largo, y más de media vara de caída, su autor Rembran [la última palabra tachada en el original y añadido:] Leonardo Bramier. 52

Museo Real de Pinturas a la muerte de Fernando VII, 1834. Núm. f.414v.
Ochenta y dos. Abraham y los tres Angeles de Bramer

Inscriptions +

52. [Inventario Casita del Principe, 1779]
Inscribed in white. Front, lower left corner

Exhibitions +

Dutch Painters at the Prado
03.12.2009 - 11.04.2010

Location +

Room 076 (On Display)

Update date: 05-01-2023 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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