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Pynas, Jacob Symonsz
Elijah Praying in the Desert Elijah Praying in the Desert
around 1624 around 1624

An aged but imposing man wearing a red mantle sits in a clearing in the wild, his hands clasped and his eyes raised heavenward. He appears to be a hermit, although his expression is neither submissive nor contemplative, but somewhat insistent and stern. The figure is probably Elijah, one of the great Hebrew prophets of the biblical tradition, who went into the wilderness to escape Ahab, the King of Judah, and Jezebel his Queen, whose wrath he had provoked by his criticism (I Kings 19:1-9). His countenance here conveys despondency, for Jacob Pynas has shown the prophet at the point when, bemoaning the failure of his mission, he prays to God for his life to end. Instead he falls asleep, only to be wakened by an angel, who brings him food and drink. Thus nourished, he finds the strength to continue travelling for forty days and forty nights, until he arrives at Mount Horeb, where he encounters Yahweh. The present composition once included the figure of the angel in flight, in the upper left quadrant. It was revealed by a cleaning, but was so heavily damaged by previous overcleaning that it was covered up again.

Pynas, Jacob Symonsz
Amsterdam, Netherlands c. 1590-Delft, Netherlands 1650 Amsterdam, Netherlands c. 1590-Delft, Netherlands 1650
Elijah Praying in the Desert Elijah Praying in the Desert
around 1624 around 1624
Oil on panel Oil on panel
overall: 38.4 cm x 36.2 cm
Gift of Alfred and Isabel Bader, 2014 Gift of Alfred and Isabel Bader, 2014
57-001.24

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