Jacob's Return to Palestine
50.64 cm x 63.5 cm (19 15/16 in. x 25 in.)
(Pittigliano (Grosseto), Italy, 1702 - 1778, Florence)
Medium and Support:
Oil on canvas
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, The Suida-Manning Collection, 2017
Zuccarelli was one of the principal landscape painters of the 18th century. Formed in Florence and Rome, his style is basically an extension of the classical tradition. Arriving in Venice around 1731, he responded to Marco Ricci’s more subjective interpretation of that tradition, lightened his palette, and cultivated his own gentle, Arcadian manner. Simple in organization, general in description, and warm in atmosphere, with their incidental figures practically interchangeable, Zuccarelli’s landscapes are very attractive and highly formulaic. They enjoyed tremendous popularity especially in England, where he traveled on numerous occasions and influenced the development of the native tradition.
Having fled to Haram to escape the wrath of his brother, Esau, Jacob worked many years for his uncle, Laban, amassed a fortune, and married first Leah, then his beloved Rachel (Genesis 25:19-34). This painting renders the return of the aged patriarch, his wives, and their entourage to Palestine. Jacob’s journeys were frequent Baroque pretexts for combining narrative, landscape, and genre elements. Even a nominally religious subject was, however, rare for Zuccarelli. This is the most distinctive of the Collection’s three paintings by the artist.
Alistair Laing commented on 10-19-07 that this is a reduced version of a famous cartoon from the artist's English period, from which the center section is preserved at Petworth.