Rembrandt van Rijn
Abraham Caressing Isaac, ca. 1637–45
Etching, state I/IV
4 1/2 x 3 1/2 inches (11.6 x 8.9 cm)
The Morgan Library & Museum, New York
Depicting no specific biblical episode, this image portrays Abraham’s affection for a beloved son. In his arms, the patriarch holds Isaac or, quite possibly, Ishmael, running his fingers through the boy’s hair and stroking his chin. While the child is completely at ease, secure in his father’s arms, Abraham’s outward stare and sober expression remind the viewer of the sacrifice, or the banishment, to come.