01 Work, Interpretation of the bible, Adriaen van der Werff’s The repudiation of Hagar, With Footnotes – #177

Adriaen van der Werff
The repudiation of Hagar

Oil on canvas
87.6 x 69.1
Private collection

Hagar is a biblical person in the Book of Genesis Chapter 16. She was an Egyptian handmaid of Sarah, who gave her to Abraham “to wife” to bear a child. The product of the union was Abraham’s firstborn, Ishmael, the progenitor of the Ishmaelites.

After Sarah gave birth to Isaac, and the tension between the women returned. At a celebration after Isaac was weaned, Sarah found the teenage Ishmael mocking her son, and demanded that Abraham send Hagar and her son away. She declared that Ishmael would not share in Isaac’s inheritance. Abraham was greatly distressed but God told Abraham to do as his wife commanded because God’s promise would be carried out through both Isaac and Ishmael.

The name Hagar originates from the Book of Genesis, and is only alluded to in the Qur’an. She is considered Abraham’s second wife in the Islamic faith and acknowledged in all Abrahamic faiths. In mainstream Christianity, she is considered a concubine to Abraham. More on Hagar

Adriaen van der Werff (21 January 1659 – 12 November 1722) was an accomplished Dutch painter of portraits and erotic, devotional and mythological scenes. His brother, Pieter van der Werff (1661–1722), was his principal pupil and assistant.

At the age of ten he started to take lessons, two years later moving in with Eglon van der Neer, specializing in clothes and draperie. At the age of seventeen he founded his own studio in Rotterdam where he later became the head of guild of Saint Luc. In 1696, he was paid a visit by Johann Wilhelm, Elector Palatine and his wife, Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici. The couple ordered two paintings to be sent to Cosimo III of Tuscany, Anna Maria Luisa’s father, in Florence. During the next years Van der Werff traveled regularly between Düsseldorf and his home town. In 1703, he became the official court painter and a knight, when his former teacher and predecessor Van der Neer died. Van der Werff, with a perfect technique, was paid extremely well by the Elector for his biblical or classical (erotic) paintings. In 1705, he painted a portrait of Gian Gastone de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany. In 1716, he lost his job when the Elector died because the treasury was empty.

Van der Werff became one of the most lauded Dutch painters of his day, gaining a European reputation and an enormous fortune. Arnold Houbraken, writing in 1718, considered him the greatest of the Dutch painters and this was the prevailing critical opinion throughout the 18th century: however, his reputation suffered in the 19th century, when he was alleged to have betrayed the Dutch naturalistic tradition. In the Victorian Age people could not appreciate his art, so most of his work went into the cellars of the Alte Pinakothek.

Van der Werff also practised as an architect in Rotterdam, where he designed a few houses. More on Adriaen van der Werff

Please visit my other blogs: Art CollectorMythologyMarine ArtPortrait of a Lady, The OrientalistArt of the Nude and The Canals of VeniceMiddle East Artists365 Saints and 365 Days, also visit my Boards on Pinterest

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Author: zaidangallery

I search Art History for Beautiful works that may, or may not, have a secondary or unexpected story to tell. I then write short summaries that grow from my research. Art work is so much more when its secrets are exposed

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