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Eeckhout, Gerbrand van den
Jacob’s Dream
1672

Born in Amsterdam in 1621, Van den Eeckhout trained in Rembrandt’s studio in the early 1640s, adopting the small-figured style to which the master had returned in those years. Like his fellow-pupil Samuel van Hoogstraten, Eeckhout cultivated a literary side, and left behind a few published poems. After his tutelage, he maintained a friendship with Rembrandt, Houbraken reports. He followed Rembrandt’s predilection for subjects from the Old Testament, and here he depicts the patriarch Jacob as a young man, on his journey to Haran. Seeking his night’s rest by the side of the way, finding a stone for a pillow, he dreams of a ladder to heaven, with angels ascending and descending it. The scene delivers the promise of God, that Jacob will father a chosen nation, great and numberless, that will eventually yield the Messiah. This revelation is not only a defining moment in Jacob’s life, but also a cornerstone of Jewish and Christian theology. Eeckhout’s late style infuses his Rembrandtesque drama and physicality with an elegant classicizing smoothness drawn from Flemish and Italian art. Heeding Calvinist restrictions, Eeckhout left out the traditional image of God the Father at the top of the ladder, mentioned in the text.

 
Eeckhout, Gerbrand van den
Amsterdam, Netherlands 1621–Amsterdam, Netherlands 1674
Jacob’s Dream
1672
Oil on canvas
height / width: 121.28 cm x 102.87 cm
Gift of Alfred and Isabel Bader, 2001
44-008

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