Sacrifice of Isaac

Rembrandt van Rijn
Sacrifice of Isaac, 1655
Etching and drypoint, only state
6 1/8 x 5 1/8 inches (15.6 x 13.1 cm)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Bequest of Ida Kammerer, in memory of her husband, Frederic Kammerer, 1933

Wings spread, wind coursing through its hair, the angel rushes in to grip Abraham’s arms as the sky breaks open with light. Abraham turns his head, his open mouth conveying surprise and confusion. His darkened eyes seem not to perceive the angel but to focus instead on the ram in the shadows at left, its curved spine sharing a contour with the angel’s wing, its hind leg and tail immediately to the left of the billowing sleeve. Provided by the Lord to be sacrificed in Isaac’s stead, the animal is the flesh and blood manifestation of the immaterial angel’s intervention.

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