Jacob asking Isaac's blessing; interior with Jacob standing before his father who lies in bed, Rachel stands listening at the half-open door. c.1635-40 Pen and brown ink, touched with brush and brown ink


© The Trustees of the British Museum

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Department: Prints & Drawings

Registration number: 1895,0915.1256

Bibliographic reference
Hind 1915-31 37 (as Rembrandt)
JCR 784
Benesch 1973 984
Royalton-Kisch 2010 Drost.9

Dutch Roy XVIIc

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Object types
drawing (scope note | all objects)

paper (all objects)
drawn (scope note | all objects)
Production person
Attributed to Willem Drost (biographical details | all objects)
Formerly attributed to Rembrandt (biographical details | all objects)
1652-1655 (circa)
Schools /Styles
Dutch (scope note | all objects)

Jacob asking Isaac's blessing; interior with Jacob standing before his father who lies in bed, Rachel stands listening at the half-open door. c.1652-55
Pen and brown ink, touched with white; ruled framing lines in pen and brown ink.
Verso: see Inscriptions.
Watermark: countermark 'PD'.

Inscription Content: Inscribed in graphite, lower right: ‘2 [...]’; verso; in graphite: ‘784.’.

Height: 163 millimetres
Width: 226 millimetres (chain lines horizontal, 25/26mm apart)

Generally good; small repair, upper right edge; a little faded; a small rubbed patch at lower left (perhaps where Robinson’s mark erased).

Curator's comments
Entry from Martin Royalton-Kisch, 'Catalogue of drawings by Rembrandt and his school', 2010, attributed to Willem Drost, cat. no.9:
The subject is unusual in showing the moment before Isaac erroneously blesses his second son, Jacob, who disguises himself as his elder brother Esau for the purpose. On his mother, Rebecca's, instructions (she is seen listening at the door), Jacob covers his arms with goatskin which the ill-sighted Isaac mistakes, on inspection, for the arms of Esau, 'a hairy man' ('Genesis', XXVII, 18-26).
The style of the drawing resembles Rembrandt's in the mid-1650s and an attribution to him seems superficially plausible. Yet the modelling, distribution of light and comprehension of form differ from the master's own work; the postures are awkward or unclear, the shading – as in Jacob's robe – is illogical, and the perspective of the floor appears unconvincing.[1] The marked contrast in style with autograph sheets of the same date and type, such as the 'Mocking of Christ' in New York (Pierpont Morgan Library, Benesch 920), suggests that the British Museum's study is more probably by a pupil, closely basing himself on drawings by Rembrandt. The style resembles that of Willem Drost, whose name has recently been advanced,[2] and the hand seems to be the same as that in two drawings now in Dresden, the 'Tarquin and Lucretia' in Dresden (inv. C1896-33; Benesch C50) and the 'Angel announcing St John the Baptist's Birth to Zacharias' (inv. C 1320),[3] which may also be Drost's work. Rembrandt's painting at Kassel of the related subject of 'Isaac blessing Jacob' is dated 1656 (Bredius 525) and therefore belongs to approximately the same period.

[1] Part of the work in the floor was corrected with white that has now become transparent, yet the spaces were never clearly organised.
[2] Schatborn, 1994, p.24.
[3] Exh. Dresden, 2004, nos.55 and 51 respectively. (the name of Drost is tentatively mentioned in the entry for the latter).

LITERATURE (as Rembrandt unless otherwise stated):
Robinson, 1869/76, no.764/784 (subject identified tentatively); Kleinmann, IV, no.12; Hofstede de Groot, 1906, no.869; Wurzbach, 1910, p.417; London, 1915, no.37 (c.1635-40); Valentiner, I, 1925, no.66, repr. (c.1650 or later); Van Dyke, 1927, p.129 (unknown pupil; compares group of drawings comprising 'Parable of Talents', Louvre, Benesch 910, 'Joseph's Dream', Amsterdam, Benesch 915, 'Annunciation', formerly Bremen, Benesch 994, and 'Annunciation to the Shepherds', Amsterdam, Ben.1023); Fierens, 1929, no.34, repr.; Hell, 1930, pp.23, 37 and 98 (early 1650s; economy of indications of architecture; the far wall not usually shown in earlier such sketches); Benesch, 1935, p.56 (c.1653-6; one of a group of drawings revealing interest in oriental art); Benesch, 1935[I], p.266; Benesch, 1947, p.45, under no.233 (compares 'Manoah' in Lugt coll., Benesch 980, part of group revealing 'archaic grace' of copies of Indian miniatures); Benesch, V, 1957/73, no.984, repr. fig.1197/1266 (c.1655-6; compares 'Jacob praying', Stuttgart, Benesch 982, and 'Return of Prodigal Son', Lugt coll., Benesch 983); Hoekstra, II (deel I), 1983, repr. p.39 (c.1655; iconography discussed); Schatborn, 1994, p.24 (Drost?).

old testament (all objects)

Associated names
Representation of Rachel (biographical details | all objects)
Representation of Jacob (biographical details | all objects)
Representation of Isaac (biographical details | all objects)

Acquisition date

Acquisition name
Purchased from Col John Wingfield Malcolm (biographical details | all objects)
Previous owner/ex-collection Sir John Charles Robinson (biographical details | all objects)

Acquisition notes
A drawing of this subject from the Saportas collection was sold at the H. van Cranenburg sale, Amsterdam, 26ff. October, 1858, lot 242, for f.283, but the measurements are not given and another sheet may have been involved.

Exhibition History
London, 1895, 381b;
1899, no.A11; 1938, no.37;
1956, p.25, no.14;
1992, no.95, repr. (School of Rembrandt).

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