00:00
/
00:00
Cuyp, Benjamin Gerritsz
Elijah and the Widow of Zarephath
Around 1640

This small panel represents the biblical story of Elijah and the widow of Zarephath. The First Book of Kings tells how Yahweh directs Elijah to a widow in the region of Zarephath, who will provide him with food and shelter. However, when the prophet approaches the woman and asks her for food, she explains that being desperately poor she only has enough meal and oil for one more serving for herself and her son. Elijah insists, assuring her that all will be well. She accordingly prepares the remaining food for all three of them, only to discover that her oil jar and meal barrel now remain permanently filled: in reward for her faith, the prophet has worked a miracle. Given the elder’s dramatic swaying pose and the alert reaction of the boy, Cuyp seems to have depicted the moment when Elijah utters his prophecy of rescue. The grim features of mother and child, which convey hopelessness and fatigue, contrast with the prophet’s bounding vibrancy. Aside from its evident message about the power of faith, the scene also carries a moral recommendation regarding the virtue of hospitality.

 
Cuyp, Benjamin Gerritsz
Dordrecht, Netherlands 1612–Dordrecht, Netherlands 1652
Elijah and the Widow of Zarephath
Around 1640
Oil on panel
25.4 x 33.7 cm
Gift of Alfred and Isabel Bader, 2013
56-003.09

Subscribe to our “This Week at Agnes” e-newsletter to stay abreast of events, news and opportunities at the art museum.