Rembrandt van Rijn
Abraham Entertaining the Angels, 1656
Etching and drypoint on Japanese paper, only state
6 5/16 x 5 1/8 inches (16.1 x 13 cm)
National Gallery of Art, Washington
New Century Fund, 2005
Ten years after depicting Genesis 18 in oil, Rembrandt produced this very different treatment of the scene, now emphatically identifying one of the three visitors as the Lord. Two winged angels with distinctive, masculine features accompany him. These hybrid creatures are at once the travelers Abraham sees with his eyes and the divine messengers he is beginning to understand them to be. At the center of the image is Abraham’s son Ishmael, whose banishment was an eventual consequence of Isaac’s birth.