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Gerbrand van den Eeckhout, 'Rebekah and Eliezer at the Well', 1661

Key facts
Full title Rebekah and Eliezer at the Well
Artist Gerbrand van den Eeckhout
Artist dates 1621 - 1674
Date made 1661
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 76.5 × 108 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Presented by Herman Shickman, in gratitude for the hospitality shown to his mother, a refugee from Germany, by the British people during the Second World War, 1991
Inventory number NG6535
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Rebekah and Eliezer at the Well
Gerbrand van den Eeckhout

Van den Eeckhout’s painting tells an Old Testament story of kindness, hospitality and trust towards travellers. In 1991, it was presented to the National Gallery by Mr Herman Shickman in gratitude to the British people who showed hospitality to his mother, a refugee from Germany in the Second World War.

The figure wearing the enormous turban is Eliezer, chief servant of Abraham, the first of the Jewish patriarchs. Abraham wanted a wife for his son, Isaac, and sent Eliezer to find a bride in a neighbouring country. God told him to stop at a well to ask for water. Whichever young woman offered it first would be chosen.

The painting shows the moment when, without his asking, Rebekah shyly offers Eliezer a drink. She holds the heavy jug in front of her, perhaps a little defensively, but the hand Eliezer holds out to her is gentle and reassuring. Rebekah consents to return with him to become Isaac’s wife, and lives, so the Bible tells, happily ever after.

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