Hagar and Ishmael

Benjamin West American

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 717

This painting illustrates the plight of Ishmael after he and his mother have been turned out of Abraham’s household (Genesis 21). West exhibited the picture at the Royal Academy of Arts in London in 1776. In 1803 he changed both the figures and the background, repainted the angel, added draperies, and submitted the painting for a second exhibition. The Royal Academy ruled that no artist could show a work twice. West, who was the academy’s president from 1792 to 1820, was outraged. The controversy continued until 1806, when West was finally allowed to exhibit the picture.

#4573. Hagar and Ishmael

Hagar and Ishmael, Benjamin West (American, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania 1738–1820 London), Oil on canvas, American

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in frame