Inventory number
Ribera, José de
Isaac and Jacob
110 cm x 291,5 cm
On display
Colección Real (Palacio Real Nuevo, Madrid, primera sala de la Furriera, 1747, nº 115; Palacio Real Nuevo, Madrid, cuarto del infante don Javier, 1772, nº 115; Palacio Real Nuevo, Madrid, pieza de trucos, 1794, nº 115; Palacio Real, Madrid, pieza de trucos, 1814-1818, nº 115; Real Academia de BBAA de San Fernando, Madrid, 1816-1827).

This work captures the moment when Jacob, his arm covered in a kid skin, pretends to be his hairy brother Esau in order to receive the blessings of his aged and blind father, Isaac. Behind them is Rebecca, who has planned this trickery, while the true Esau is in the background.

This story from Genesis is used by Ribera to compose a narrative of trickery and ambition, and he offers a lesson in mastering gestures and body expressions. Under this literal narration lies the symbolic content, which makes the work an allegory of the five senses (touch, vision, hearing, smell and taste), represented by the protagonist's acts and the splendid still life on the table in the lower right corner of the painting, which alludes to taste.

One of Ribera's most ambitious works, it is also the one that best reveals his gift for pictorial narration. It was probably intended to hang over a door or window and its presence in Madrid's Alcázar Palace was documented in 1700. It remained in the Royal Collection until it entered the Prado, although it was at the Academy of San Fernando between 1816 and 1818.

The work is signed and dated on the lower right corner.

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