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Bray, Salomon de
Hagar Brought to Abraham by Sarah
1650

One of the great “universal talents” of the Dutch Golden Age, Salomon de Bray practiced architecture, city planning, poetry and musical composition, in addition to rising to prominence as a history painter in the cultural hub of Haarlem. He studied with local luminaries Hendrick Goltzius (1558-1617) and Cornelis Cornelisz. van Haarlem (1562-1638), and later established a family workshop in which his sons also prospered in various specialties, including portraiture and still life. De Bray briefly dabbled in the style of Rembrandt during the 1620s, before embracing a smooth and idealizing classicism. De Bray’s use of a prominent nude figure in this painting is unusual: he adapted the pose from a painting by Nicolaes Moyeaert (1592/3-1656), who took it in turn from a painting by the Flemish master Jacob Jordaens (1593-1678). All three artists likely knew its origins in ancient Greek sculptures of the Venus Pudica. De Bray favoured Old Testament themes. Here he shows the aged Sarah, wife of the patriarch Abraham, doubting God’s promise that she would bear a son, instead bringing her servant Hagar to her husband to conceive a child with him. Sarah, exemplifying faithlessness, is here cast as a brazen schemer, contrasting with the innocent and humiliated Hagar.

 
Bray, Salomon de
Amsterdam, Netherlands 1597–Haarlem, Netherlands 1664
Hagar Brought to Abraham by Sarah
1650
Oil on panel
31.2 x 23.5 cm
Gift of Alfred and Isabel Bader, 2010
53-038

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