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The Angel appears to Hagar and Ishmael
Gioacchino Assereto
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A woman seated in a landscape is startled by the sudden appearance of an angel, who points to heaven while gesturing towards a sleeping boy in the distance. This is the angel appearing to Hagar, the Egyptian maidservant to Sara, wife of Abraham, as told in the Old Testament. Hagar bore Abraham a son, Ishmael, and was subsequently banished to the wilderness. When supplies ran out and Ishmael was on the point of dying an angel appeared, pointing out a water source where they could drink and announcing to Hagar that her son would lead a great nation (the Ishmaelites).

This is a mature work by the Genoese painter Assereto. The picture’s fluid brushwork and strongly naturalistic style are typical of the artist. Assereto’s gesticulating figures and boldly cropped composition lend drama to this biblical scene, while the subdued tones and limited colour range echo the sombre mood demanded by the subject.

Key facts
Artist Gioacchino Assereto
Artist dates 1600 - 1649
Full title The Angel appears to Hagar and Ishmael
Date made about 1640
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 119 x 167 cm
Acquisition credit Presented by the Trustees of Sir Denis Mahon's Charitable Trust through the Art Fund, 2013
Inventory number NG6621
Location in Gallery Room 31
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