- Museum number
- Object: Sacrificio del Patriarca Abraham
The Sacrifice of Isaac; Abraham standing with raised knife next to Isaac who kneels on a funeral pyre, being restrained by an angel in the top right, amid a landscape with on the left the preceding part of the narrative; Abraham leading a donkey with Isaac carrying a bundle of wood on his back leaving their two servants. c.1514/5
Woodcut printed from four blocks on four sheets assembled together
- Production date
Height: 790 millimetres
Width: 1060 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (From M. P. McDonald, Ferdinand Columbus: Renaissance Collector, British Museum, London, 2005)
The degree to which Titian was responsible for designing this composition has been much debated but he probably provided drawings for its major elements. The story is depicted as it is told in the bible (Genesis 22: 1-19). In the foreground, Isaac's pathos is fully expressed as he stoops under the weight of the wood for his sacrifice. The two men seem to understand the profundity of his fate, while Abraham at the left conveys a sense of urgency. The only anomaly in the narrative depicted is in the upper right where, instead of a ram caught in the thicket, there is a goat.
The print borrows a number of motifs from Dürer. The angel in the upper right seems based on the angel in the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and the distant mountain landscape at the upper left is taken from the Visitation from Dürer's Life of the Virgin series. There are at least five editions of this print.
See D.Rosand & M.Muraro, 'Titian and the Venetian Woodcut', Washington 1976, cat.3; Jürgen Rapp, 'Pantheon' LII 1994, pp.43-61, who dates the print to c.1505/6 and regards it as one of Titian's earliest works. He points out that the design was first created as a single block (the present top right block), to which three further blocks were added to extend the design. He links this extension with Benalio's privilege of 1515. Another later state without lettering is kept unmounted (1860,0414.121).
Additional information: The block was published by Bernardo Benalio, who took out a Venetian privilege for it in 1515. The composition and figures of this print were copied in an Italian maiolica plaque (British Museum,1885,0508.27); see D.Thornton and T.Wilson, 'Italian Renaissance Ceramics: A catalogue of the British Museum collection,' vol.I, London, 2009, p. 175-172, cat. no. 113).
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number