Cardinal Francesco Barberini commissioned many works from Pietro da Cortona, the pre-eminent painter of the Roman Baroque. This painting hung together with its pendant, 'The marriage of Jacob and Rachel' (now in the Louvre, Paris), at the Palazzo Barberini, Rome. According to Genesis, Jacob served his uncle Laban to win in marriage his cousins Leah and Rachel. When Jacob and his wives departed for Canaan, Rachel stole her father's idols. Laban pursued them, and here searches through one of the chests for the idols while Jacob holds open the lid. Rachel is sitting on the camel's saddle where the idols are actually hidden. Pietro da Cortona was inspired by Raphael and by the sixteenth-century Venetian school, but he also greatly admired the sculpture of his contemporary and friend, Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The two influences, one tending towards dignity and repose, the other more dynamic, can be traced in his work.
Where to see this painting?
Bristol Museum & Art Galley
Queens Road, Bristol, Bristol, England, BS8 1RL
If you are planning a visit to see this painting, check with the collection first. Paintings can be moved at short notice.