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Earlom, Richard; Gellée, Claude (Claude Lorrain) (after)
Eliezer and Rebecca at the Well, no. 8 in: Liber Veritatis, vol. 3 Eliezer and Rebecca at the Well, no. 8 in: Liber Veritatis, vol. 3
1802 1802

This print reproduces a drawing by Claude Lorrain in the British Museum, depicting the exchange described in Genesis 24, in which Abraham’s servant Eliezer asks Rebecca for a drink of the water that she has drawn from the well.(1) Eliezer was sent by his master to find a wife for his son Isaac among his kinsfolk. Outside the town of Nahor, Eliezer stopped by the well and prayed for a divine sign, that the woman whom he would ask for a drink of water would comply and offer to water his camels as well. Rebecca, daughter of Abraham’s nephew Bethuel, did exactly this, and Eliezer proceeded to negotiate successfully with her parents for her hand in marriage. The tense moment of Eliezer’s approach to Rebbeca became a popular theme for painters, likely because the theme served as a celebration of marriage among their public of patrons and buyers. Lorrain’s spare drawing is dated 1675.

Richard Earlom produced this print for his third volume of the Liber Veritatis. This was a series of prints reproducing the drawings by Lorrain in the like-named album that that Lorrain produced of ricordi, or drawn records of his own paintings before they went out to their new owners, which is now in the British Museum. Using the newly-developed medium of aquatint to imitate the continuous tone of washes as well as thick fluid lines of drawing, Earlom produced the 195 prints for publication with Josua Boydell in two volumes in 1777. It was such a success that Earlom produced a third album, in 1819, of another hundred drawings, to capitalize on the fame of the project. These were not works from Claude’s album, and so the title is deceptive, but they were sheets that Earlom understood to be by Claude, correctly in the case of the present sheet.

Claude Lorrain was the most important French landscape painter of the 17th century. Born in Champagne in 1604, he first apprenticed to a pastry cook before entering the care of his brother, a carver, and from there he proceeded to Rome, where he entered the studio of Agostino Tass (around 1579-1644)i. He then spent several years in Naples, in the studio of a Flemish pupil of Tassi, Gottfried Wals (1590/95-1638). He returned to Rome, and in 1625 travelled back to Lorrain, but made his way back to the Eternal City two years later, where he remained until his death. Initially focusing on rural scenes, he then turned to idealizing landscapes, following the principles of the Carracci workshop in pursuing clarity and idealizating. He is famous for incorporating soft light in his works to generate unity and a meditative effect. He typically incorporated small-scale figures to animate his spaces while maintaining the emphasis on the landscape, even in those scenes with a defined narrative, such as the present one.

Richard Earlom likely first studied with the painter Giovanni Battista Cipriani (1727-1785) in London, and also at the Martin’s Lane Academy, and competed for prizes for drawing and engraving at the Society of Arts over the years 1757 to 1766. He produced many engravings, primarily for the publisher Joseph Boydell, including ones for his project for representing all of the works at Houghton Hall. His Liber Veritatis remains is best-known work.

1. Claude Lorrain, Rebecca and Eliezer at the Well, 1675. pen and brown ink, with grey wash, over graphite, 14.2 × 21.3 cm, London, British Museum, inv. 0o,8.264; see Marcel Roethlisberger, Claude Lorrain: the drawings (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1968), p. 401, no. 1090.

 
Earlom, Richard; Gellée, Claude (Claude Lorrain) (after)
London, England 1743-London, England 1822; Champagne, France 1604-Rome, Italy 1683 London, England 1743-London, England 1822; Champagne, France 1604-Rome, Italy 1683
Eliezer and Rebecca at the Well, no. 8 in: Liber Veritatis, vol. 3 Eliezer and Rebecca at the Well, no. 8 in: Liber Veritatis, vol. 3
1802 1802
etching and aquatint in brown ink on paper etching and aquatint in brown ink on paper
16.5 x 22.8 (plate); 42.0 x 28.0 cm (sheet)
Gift of Mary Cotterell Stewart, 2013 Gift of Mary Cotterell Stewart, 2013
56-014.11

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