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Hendrick ter Brugghen, Jacob reproaching Laban

Key facts
Full title Jacob reproaching Laban for giving him Leah in place of Rachel
Artist Hendrick ter Brugghen
Artist dates 1588 - 1629
Date made 1627
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 97.5 × 114.3 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Bought, 1926
Inventory number NG4164
Location Room 24
Collection Main Collection
Jacob reproaching Laban
Hendrick ter Brugghen

Two men, one old, one young, hands raised and fingers pointing, seem to be arguing. We are being presented with a key moment in a story, but since the picture has no surviving title we have to make an educated guess as to what it is.

The most likely candidate is the account in the Old Testament of Jacob’s marriage. Jacob fell in love with his cousin Rachel. To earn her hand in marriage he agreed to work as a shepherd for her father, Laban, for seven years. But when the time was up, Laban substituted his elder daughter Leah for Rachel. Jacob was bitterly disappointed by the deceit, but agreed to work for another seven years in order to marry Rachel as well. Here, then, we see Jacob’s admonishment of Laban the morning after the wedding, with Leah in blue and Rachel in the background.

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