Abraham and Isaac

Artist: Rembrandt (Rembrandt van Rijn) (Dutch, Leiden 1606–1669 Amsterdam)

Date: 1645

Medium: Etching and burin; only state

Dimensions: Plate: 6 1/8 x 5 1/8 in. (15.5 x 13 cm)

Classification: Prints

Credit Line: H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929

Accession Number: 29.107.26


Among Rembrandt's most moving prints, this etching depicts the story of Abraham, who, as a test of his faith, was ordered by God to sacrifice his son Isaac. As is typical of the artist's work of the 1640s, Rembrandt chose to illustrate the most emotionally poignant moment of the story: Isaac, unwittingly the intended sacrifice, asks his father, "Where is the lamb for the offering?" Abraham responds that God will provide one. Rembrandt arranged the composition around the pivotal gesture of the father, who points to God with his upraised finger. Like a storm cloud, lines swirl in the background behind Isaac, while the area behind his father is blank, modulated only by a thin film of ink.