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Isaac and Jacob
Ribera, Jusepe de, lo Spagnoletto
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Ribera, Jusepe de, lo Spagnoletto

Játiva, Valencia (Spain), 1591 - Naples (Italy), 1652

Ribera, Jusepe de, lo Spagnoletto See author's file

Isaac and Jacob

1637. Oil on canvas.
Room 009

This painting narrates an event from chapter 27 of Genesis, in which Jacob tricks his father, Isaac, in order to obtain the blessing that should rightfully go to his older brother, Esau. Jacob’s mother, Rebecca, helps him dress in Esau’s clothes and cover his arm with a sheepskin that resembles his brother’s abundant body hair. He then takes food to his elderly, blind father, Isaac, thus inducing him to confuse him with Esau. This was a very common subject among 17th-century Italian painters, but was rarely depicted in Spain.

This painting is an excellent example of the artist’s gifts as a narrative painter and his capacity to transmit a broad range of complex human emotions. The spatial compression subliminally increases the story’s dramatic tension, as the viewer is aware of all the rage and disappointment that will explode when Isaac and Esau discover how they have been tricked. Esau, who appears in the distance through an opening on the left side of the composition, is returning tranquilly from the hunt with no idea that he is being tricked. With her right hand, Rebecca pushes Jacob toward his father, encouraging him to make the most of the situation. By looking directly out at the viewers, she makes us silent accomplices to her elaborate strategy. Jacob extends his hand with some hesitancy, uncomfortable with the hand fate has dealt him, while Isaac runs his hand along the full length of the young man’s arm without knowing whether his senses of touch and smell are mistaken: The voice is Jacob’s, but the hands are those of Esau (Verse 22).

Ribera approaches the subject almost like an allegory of the five senses, where the essence of the episode is that the sense of touch has to compensate for the absent sense of sight (Isaac’s blindness). According to the Bible, despite the fact that Jacob’s voice confused him, Isaac was certain that it was Esau alongside him because of the smell of his clothing. The reference to the sense of touch appears in the still life on the table to the right, which is the platter of game that Isaac had requested of his eldest son. In the series of The Senses Ribera painted in the mid 1610s, he had already explored some of these ideas. And here, as in another earlier work, The Sense of Touch (Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena), he uses the motive of blindness to draw our attention to the artist’s own extraordinarily precise vision.

This work dates from 1637, a fundamental year in Ribera’s career. That year, he began working for the Duke of Medina de las Torres -viceroy of Naples between 1637 and 1641- who commissioned him to paint various works for both his own collection and for the king. And that same year, he began working for the Carthusian monks of San Martino, with whom he maintained a fruitful, if problematic relation through the end of his life. Moreover, some of his finest works date from 1637, including the Pietà at San Martino, Apollo Flaying Marsyas, in Naples, and the Venus and Adonis at the Palazzo Corsini in Rome.

El Prado en el Hermitage, Museo Estatal del Hermitage: Museo del Prado, 2011, p.128-129


Technical data

Related artworks

Isaac and Jacob
Taille douce: etching and engraving on wove paper, 1791
Cruz Vázquez, Manuel de la
Inventory number
Ribera, Jusepe de, lo Spagnoletto
Isaac and Jacob
Height: 110 cm; Width: 291.5 cm
Royal Collection (New Royal Palace, Madrid, "primera sala de la Furriera", 1747, nº 115; New Royal Palace, Madrid, "cuarto del infante don Javier", 1772, nº 115; New Royal Palace, Madrid, "pieza de trucos", 1794, nº 115; New Royal Palace, Madrid, "pieza de trucos", 1814-1818, nº 115; Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando, Madrid, 1816-1827).

Bibliography +

Inventario: Real Palacio de Madrid., Madrid, 1734, pp. ?.

Inventario: Real Palacio de Madrid, Madrid, 1747, pp. ?.

Inventario Nuevo Palacio Real, Madrid, 1772, pp. ?.

Palacio Nuevo de Madrid, Madrid, 1794, pp. ?.

Inventario. Real Palacio de Madrid. 1814, Madrid, 1814, pp. ?.

Viñaza, Cipriano Muñoz y Manzano Conde de, Adiciones al diccionario histórico de los mas ilustres profesores de Bellas Artes en España de D. Juan Agustín Cean Bermúdez, [s.n.], Madrid, 1894, pp. 310.

Trapier, Elizabeth du Gué, Ribera, Nueva York, 1952, pp. 142/lám. 91.

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

Ponz, Antonio, Viage de España., VI, Madrid, 1972, pp. 51.

Spinosa, Nicola., La obra pictórica completa de Ribera /, Noguer, Barcelona.Madrid, 1978, pp. 110.

Jusepe de Ribera: lo Spagnoletto, 1591-1652, Washington University Press, Fort Worth, 1982, pp. 194/lám. 172.

Brown, Jonathan, Mecenas y coleccionistas españoles de Jusepe Ribera., Goya: Revista de Arte, 183, 1984, pp. 147.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 558.

Réau, Louis, Iconographie de L'Art Chretien. T. I. Introduction Generale, Kraus Reprint, Millwood, 1988, pp. ?.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado. Inventario general de pinturas (I) La Colección Real, Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1990.

Benito Domènech, Fernando, Ribera, 1591-1652, Bancaja, Valencia, 1991, pp. 116.

Jusepe de Ribera, Piero CorsinoInc., Nueva York, 1992, pp. ?.

Pérez Sánchez, Alfonso E., Jusepe de Ribera 1591-1652 /, Electa, Napoles, 1992, pp. 216.

Ribera : (1591-1652) /, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1992, pp. 308.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Los cinco sentidos y el arte, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1997, pp. 176.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Pintura barroca española: guía, Museo Nacional del PradoAldeasa, Madrid, 2001, pp. 64.

Portús Pérez, Javier, La colección de pintura española en el Museo del Prado, Edilupa, Madrid, 2003, pp. 85.

Tinterow, Gary, Manet/Velázquez: the french taste for Spanish painting, The Metropolitan Museum of ArtLondresYale Universi, New York, 2003, pp. 449.

Spinosa, Nicola, Ribera, Electa, Napoli, 2003, pp. 302.

Finaldi, G, 'José de Ribera. Isaac y Jacob' En:, Museu Nacional D'Art de Catalunya, Barcelona, 2005, pp. 262-265 n.63.

Enciclopedia del Museo del Prado, IV, T.F. Editores: Fundación Amigos, 2006, pp. 1336.

De Tiziano a Goya: grandes maestros del Museo del Prado, Museo Nacional del Prado: SEACEX, Madrid, 2007, pp. 222.

Spinosa, Nicola, Ribera: la obra completa, Fundación Arte Hispánico, Madrid, 2008, pp. 392.

El Prado en el Hermitage, Museo Estatal del Hermitage: Museo del Prado, 2011, pp. 128-129.

Martínez Leiva, Gloria; Rodríguez Rebollo, Ángel, El inventario del Alcázar de Madrid de 1666. Felipe IV y su colección artística, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Madrid, 2015, pp. 331 nº 282.

Santos Bueso, Enrique, Oftalmología en el Museo del Prado, Gertograf, 2015, pp. 18.

Other inventories +

Inv. Felipe V, Palacio Nuevo, 1747. Núm. 115.
PINTURAS EXISTENTES ANTIGUAS [...] En la primera Sala de este Oficio [...] {10333} 115 / Otra pintura de Isaac echando la bendicion a su hijo de tres varas y media de largo y dos menos tercia de caida original de Ribera el Españoleto en 6 mil rs.

Inv. Carlos III, Palacio Nuevo, 1772. Núm. 115.
Quarto del Infante Don Xavier [...] {13120} 115 / Otro [quadro original del Españoleto] de Isaac echando la bendición a su hijo Jacob de tres varas de largo y vara y media de caida

Inv. Fernando VII, Palacio Nuevo, 1814-1818. Núm. 115.
Pieza de Trucos [...] {21189} 115 / Tres varas largo vara y media de alto, Isaac echando la bendición a Jacob = Ribera

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos III, Palacio Nuevo, 1794. Núm. 115.
Pieza de trucos [...] {49} 115 / Tres varas de largo, y vara y media de alto / Ysaac, hechando la bendición á Jacob. Rivera; en ... 24.000

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 485.
Ribera. / 485. La bendicion de Isaac. / Bendice el Patriarca á Jacob en lugar de Esaú, engañado por la industria de Rebeca. / Alto 4 pies, 7 pulg, 3 lin; Ancho 10 pies, 4 pulg, 6 lin.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1872-1907. Núm. 983.
983.-Jacob recibiendo la bendición de Isaac. / Alto 1,29.Ancho 2,89.-Lienzo / [Capítulo del Génesis] En un lecho cubierto con una colcha de seda encarnada, medio arrebujada, y bajo un cortinaje de la misma seda, está incorporado el anciano y ciego Isaac palpando el brazo derecho de su hijo Jacob, cubierto con una piel de cabrito, por industria de su madre, la cual espera detrás del mancebo el resultado de su engaño y le empuja por la espalda como para que no retroceda en la arriesgada empresa. Cubre el cuerpo del adolescente una vistosa tunicela azul, y el del padre anciano un jubon verde...

Inscriptions +

11[¿5?] [muy borrado]
Inscribed in red color. Front, lower left corner

Inscribed in black. Back

- 115 -
Inscribed. Frame, back, upper bar

Exhibitions +

El Prado en el Hermitage
San Petersburgo
25.02.2011 - 29.05.2011

Caravaggio y la pintura realista europea
06.10.2005 - 15.01.2006

José de Ribera
Nueva York NY
15.09.1992 - 29.11.1992

José de Ribera
02.06.1992 - 16.08.1992

José de Ribera
27.02.1992 - 17.05.1992

Location +

Room 009 (On Display)


Displayed objects +

Meat / Flesh


Wine: Vino tinto

Knife: Cuchillo, con mango de material negro, posiblemente hasta.

Plate: Platos de metal plateado

Vial: Redoma de cuerpo esférico y cuello tubular estrecho, que ensancha ligeramente hacia la boca, reforzada por un engrosamiento del borde; en su parte inferior presenta un pie de forma circular. Parece contener vino tinto.
Empleadas para el servicio de agua y vino en la mesa

Textile, Domestic: Mantel blanco, con orla de vainica y flecos.

Update date: 14-09-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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