The painting had been in the same French private collection since the beginning of nineteenth century. According to the auction house, it was previously attributed to Rembrandt. Albert Blankert confirmed the attribution to Bol in 2009. For Bol’s religious history paintings, see Albert Blankert, Ferdinand Bol (1616–1680): Rembrandt’s Pupil (Doornspijk, 1982), 27–40, 89–97, nos. 1–17. For the story of Rebecca and Eliezer and the iconographic tradition of the Old Testament in the Dutch Republic, see Christian Tümpel, “Religious History Painting,” in Gods, Saints, and Heroes: Dutch Painting in the Age of Rembrandt, ed. Albert Blankert et al. (Exh. cat. Washington D.C., National Gallery of Art; Detroit Institute of Arts; Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum) (Washington D.C., 1980), 45–54; Volker Manuth, “Ikonographische Studien zu den Historien des Alten Testaments bei Rembrandt und seiner frühen Amsterdamer Schule” (Ph.D. diss., Freie Universität Berlin, 1987); Christian Tümpel, ed., Het oude testament in de schilderkunst van de gouden eeuw (Exh. cat. Amsterdam, Joods Historisch Museum; Jerusalem, Israel Museum) (Amsterdam, 1991–92); and Volker Manuth, “Denomination and Iconography: The Choice of Subject Matter in the Biblical Painting of the Rembrandt Circle,” Simiolus 22, no. 4 (1993): 235–52.
Bol depicted a similar belted sash in this catalogue’s Angel Appearing to Elijah; see FB-104.
“And so it came to pass, as the camels had done drinking, that the man took a golden earring of half a shekel weight, and two bracelets for her hands of ten shekels weight of gold” (Gen. 24:22).
Technical investigation has shown that the canvas has been trimmed only slightly along the right edge. Cusping of the canvas was found along the right and lower edges. See the Technical Summary.
For the significance of Rebecca as a model of female virtue, see Netty van de Kamp, “Die Genesis: Die Urgeschichte und die Geschichte der Erzvater,” in Het oude testament in de schilderkunst van de gouden eeuw, ed. Christian Tümpel (Exh. cat. Amsterdam, Joods Historisch Museum; Jerusalem, Israel Museum) (Amsterdam, 1991–92), 34–36; Eddy de Jongh, Portretten van echt en trouw: Huwelijk en gezin in de Nederlandse kunst van de zeventiende eeuw (Exh. cat. Haarlem, Frans Hals Museum) (Zwolle, 1986), 107–9, 319–21.
On the other hand, Rebecca was interpreted in some religious circles as a model of submission and obedience, whereas John Calvin (in his Commentaries on the First Book of Moses, 1554) used her acceptance of jewelry from Eliezer as a warning against worldliness. See Eddy de Jongh, Portretten van echt en trouw: Huwelijk en gezin in de Nederlandse kunst van de zeventiende eeuw (Exh. cat. Haarlem, Frans Hals Museum) (Zwolle, 1986), 319–20, who cites the example of Jan Taffin’s Boetveerdicheyt des levens, published in Haarlem in 1613, and Albert Blankert’s discussion of the theme in “Rembrandt’s Impact,” in Rembrandt: A Genius and His Impact, ed. Albert Blankert et al. (Exh. cat. Melbourne, National Gallery of Victoria; Canberra, National Gallery of Australia) (Zwolle, 1997–98), 269–70.
For prints, see, for example, Dirk Volkertsz Coornhert after Maarten van Heemskerck, Abraham’s Servant and Rebecca at the Well, 1549, etching,; Jan Saenredam after Karel van Mander, Rebecca and Eliezer at the Well, ca. 1580–1607, engraving; Nicolaes Cornelisz Moyaert, Eliezer and Rebecca, ca. 1615, etching. The title page of Rombout Jacobsen’s emblem book Bruylofts-Dichten, published by Claes Jansz Visscher in Amsterdam in 1616, depicts Rebecca and Eliezer at the well in one of four vignettes of biblical marriage scenes. For this example, as well as the iconography of penningen, see Eddy de Jongh, Portretten van echt en trouw: Huwelijk en gezin in de Nederlandse kunst van de zeventiende eeuw (Exh. cat. Haarlem, Frans Hals Museum) (Zwolle, 1986), 319–20; G. van der Meer, “Twaalf gegraveerde penningen, 17de en 18de eeuw,” in Vereniging Rembrandt. Verslag over 1982 (Amsterdam, 1982), 62–65. A later seventeenth-century example of the latter can be found in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam: Johannes Lutma II, Rebecca by the Well, ca. 1654, silver, 7.5 cm; the opposite side shows the marriage of Rebecca and Isaac.
Bol’s work may be one of the earliest large-scale paintings of the subject in the Netherlands in the seventeenth century. Maarten de Vos treated the subject in a 1562 painting, Rebecca and Eliezer at the Well, oil on canvas, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rouen, whereas Willem van Nieulandt depicted the story in a small painting between 1600 and 1620 (Landscape with Ruins and the Meeting of Rebecca and Eliezer, oil on copper, 41.5 x 57 cm, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam). Following his sixteenth-century predecessors, Nieulandt set the story in a large landscape filled with figures and narrative details. Bol’s painting departs from this tradition by reducing the composition to three main figures and focusing on the figure of Rebecca.
Otto Benesch, The Drawings of Rembrandt, 6 vols. (London, 1973), nos. 491, 503, 566, 988, C30, C64, A13.
Attributed to Rembrandt, Rebecca and Eliezer at the Well, reed pen and brown ink with brown wash and white gouache, National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. The close similarities that exist between the handling of the figures in this drawing and FB-106 suggest that Bol may have been its author.
The Darmstadt drawing exhibits an expressive distribution of light and shadow, which is also seen in FB-106.
See the essay for FB-104 by Peter Schatborn in this catalogue, and Albert Blankert, Ferdinand Bol (1616–1680): Rembrandt’s Pupil (Doornspijk, 1982), 92, 96–97, nos. 7 and 16. An important distinction between these works is their format: FB-106 is vertically oriented, while the other paintings are horizontal. The clear separation of the foreground and background in the present work was also a common compositional motif of Rembrandt’s own teacher, Pieter Lastman (1583–1633). It similarly appears in Rest on the Flight into Egypt and Judah and Thamar. See Albert Blankert, Ferdinand Bol (1616–1680): Rembrandt’s Pupil (Doornspijk, 1982), 31.
Also see The Sacrifice of Isaac, dated 1646, oil on canvas, Mansi Collection, Lucca, which similarly has a large, vertical format, with life-sized figures set in a rocky landscape. Bol gradually moved away from this style in the 1650s and 1660s as he assumed prominent public commissions, such as for Amsterdam’s new Town Hall.
Also see note 9 for the Washington drawing. See Werner Sumowski, Drawings of the Rembrandt School, ed. Walter L. Strauss (New York, 1979), 87–122, 546, no. 261. For Bol’s work as a draftsman, see, most recently, Holm Bevers et al., Drawings by Rembrandt and His Pupils: Telling the Difference (Exh. cat. Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum) (Los Angeles, 2009), 80–101.
After the death of their respective spouses, Bol and Anna van Erckel married in 1669. For this portrait, see Albert Blankert, Ferdinand Bol (1616–1680): Rembrandt’s Pupil (Doornspijk, 1982), no. 167; Werner Sumowski, Gemälde der Rembrandt-Schüler in vier Bänden, 6 vols. (Landau, 1983), 1: no. 150; and Eddy de Jongh, Portretten van echt en trouw: Huwelijk en gezin in de Nederlandse kunst van de zeventiende eeuw (Exh. cat. Haarlem, Frans Hals Museum) (Zwolle, 1986), 319–20, no. 80. According to the Dordrechts Museum, this painting was previously cut down on all four sides (probably in the nineteenth century). The largest surviving fragment, now believed to be in the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Lyon (Portrait of a Young Shepherd, oil on canvas, 102.5 x 65 cm, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lyon), depicts a shepherd lying on an embankment before a forest. Dressed in a velvet beret and surrounded by sheep, he looks directly out at the viewer. Although the Dordrecht portrait can almost certainly be identified with a work described in the 1681 estate inventory of Anna van Erckel as “the likeness of the deceased and her first husband in the guise of Isaac and Rebecca in an ebony frame by Ferd. Bol,” doubts still linger about the figures’ biblical identification. The Dordrechts Museum simply titles the painting Married Couple in a Landscape. Joshua Bruyn shed further doubt on the identity of the sitters’ roles in a 1993 article based on the relationship between the Dordrecht painting and the Lyon fragment. He suggested that the addition of a third shepherd figure to the Dordrecht image would rule out the story of Isaac and Rebecca. Alternatively, he suggested that the image may have been intended as a pastoral portrait. The recent discovery of the Leiden Collection painting—and the close similarities in the depiction of Rebecca—may serve to quell any lingering doubts about the identity of the sitters as Isaac and Rebecca. For the Lyon fragment and its possible relationship to the Dordrecht portrait, see See Hans Buijs and Mària van Berge-Gerbaud, Tableaux flamands et hollandaise du Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon (Exh. cat. Paris, Institut Néerlandais) (Paris, 1991), no. 6; Joshua Bruyn, “Een gehistorieerde familiegroep van Ferdinand Bol: Twee fragmenten in Dordrecht en Lyon,” Oud Holland 108, no. 4 (1994): 208–14. For the 1681 inventory, see Albert Blankert, Ferdinand Bol (1616–1680): Rembrandt’s Pupil (Doornspijk, 1982), 84–85. Notably, Blankert rejected the attribution of the Lyon fragment to Bol (no. R 108).
For the portrait historié, see Rose Wishnevsky, “Studien zum portrait historié in den Niederlanden” (Ph.D. diss., Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich, 1967); F. B. Polleross, Das sakrale Identifikationsportät: Ein höfischer Bildtypus vom 13. bis zum 20. Jahrhundert, 2 vols. (Worms, 1988); and more recently, Ann Jensen Adams, “The Performative portrait historié,” in Pokerfaced: Flemish and Dutch Baroque Faces Unveiled, ed. Katlijne van der Stighelen, Hannelore Magnus, and Bert Watteeuw (Turnhout, 2011), 193–214.
Gerbrand van den Eeckhout, who probably served an apprenticeship with Rembrandt at the same time as Bol, depicted the theme of Rebecca and Eliezer a number of times in the 1650s and 1660s: Rebecca and Eliezer at the Well, ca. late 1650s/early 1660s, oil on canvas, Národni Galerie, Prague; Rebecca and Eliezer at the Well, 1661, oil on canvas, National Gallery of Art, London. Van den Eeckhout also portrayed Eliezer’s presentation of the gifts to Rebecca on two occasions; Eliezer Presenting Gifts to Rebecca, 1662, oil on canvas, Prague, Museum het Catharijneconvent, Prague, and Eliezer Presenting Golden Armbands to Rebecca, 1663, oil on panel, Museum der Bildenden Künste, Leipzig. In these works, the exotically dressed figures, expansive landscape, and formal interaction between Rebecca and Eliezer lack the tenderness of Bol’s painting. See Werner Sumowksi, Gemälde der Rembrandt-Schüler in vier Bänden, 6 vols. (Landau, 1983), 2: nos. 431, 439, and 477; and Ben Broos and Rieke van Leeuwen, Gerbrand van den Eeckhout, Isaak en Rebekka, 1665: Een nieuwe aanwinst (The Hague, 1989). For Van den Eeckhout’s drawings of the subject, see Werner Sumowski, Drawings of the Rembrandt School, ed. Walter L. Strauss, 10 vols. (New York, 1979–), 3: nos. 637 and 712.
A drawing by Carel Fabritius in the Fondation Custodia, Paris, shows a dense array of figures and animals while following the compositional relationship between Rebecca and Eliezer seen in the Washington drawing. See note 9 above for the Washington drawing. For the former, see Peter Schatborn, Rembrandt and His Circle: Drawings in the Frits Lugt Collection (Paris, 2010), no. 77. A second drawing of this scene is in Edinburgh; Rebecca and Eliezer at the Well, early 1640s, pen in brown, National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh. Benesch attributed it to Rembrandt, though Schatborn later published it as by Fabritius because of its relationship to the Lugt drawing. See Otto Benesch, The Drawings of Rembrandt, 6 vols. (London, 1973), 3: no. 491; Peter Schatborn, Rembrandt and His Circle: Drawings in the Frits Lugt Collection (Paris, 2010), 200–2, fig. 38.
Paintings by Constantijn Renesse (1626–80) and Arent de Gelder (1645–1727), the latter in the Leiden Collection, on the other hand, also were conceived with tightly cropped compositions that allowed for the personal intimacy of Bol’s work. Attributed to Constantijn Renesse, Rebecca and Eliezer at the Well, oil on canvas, sale, Sotheby’s, 22 January 2004, no. 5. Jan Victors (1619–76), Philips Koninck (1619–88), Van den Eeckhout, and De Gelder also depicted the subsequent meeting of Rebecca and Isaac, and Rembrandt depicted Rebecca and Isaac in the Jewish Bride, ca. 1665–69, oil on canvas, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.
The seam appears to slope downward slightly, viewed from left to right.
Entry based on a 2012 examination report by Elsa Vigououx, paintings conservation department, Musée du Louvre, Paris. There are no infrared images of this painting.