Venetian, 1528 - 1588
Rebecca at the Well, 1580/1585
oil on canvas
overall: 145.5 x 282.7 cm (57 5/16 x 111 5/16 in.) framed: 175.3 x 313.1 x 10.2 cm (69 x 123 1/4 x 4 in.)
Samuel H. Kress Collection
Object 4 of 7
As suggested by his name of Veronese, Paolo Caliari was born in the northern Italian town of Verona. Following his training and early success there, the artist moved to Venice in 1553, where he, like Tintoretto and Bassano, was influenced by Titian's bold coloristic and compositional approaches.
The story of Rebecca at the well comes from the Book of Genesis. The aged Abraham, wanting a wife for his son Isaac, sent his servant Eliezer to his homeland of Mesopotamia to find a suitable woman. Tired after his long journey, Eliezer stopped at a well and prayed for guidance. When Rebecca offered water to Eliezer and his camels, the old steward recognized her as the appointed bride and presented her with the betrothal jewels offered by the kneeling servant.
Originally part of a decorative cycle of ten biblical scenes, this large canvas displays an interest in nature that is often noted in Veronese's later works. The deeply receding landscape at right balances the large, elegantly posed figures in the left foreground. Gleaming copper pots and luxurious orange, rose, and yellow fabrics provide a sharp contrast with the darkness of the lush vegetation and the evening sky. The fanciful camels add an exotic touch to Veronese's poetic interpretation of the story.
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