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European Paintings - Ital. 16th c.

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Rebecca and Eliezer at the Well

mid 1570s
16th century
351 cm x 258.1 cm (138 3/16 in. x 101 5/8 in.)

Santi di Tito (Sansepolcro (Arezzo), Italy, 1536 - 1603, Florence) Primary

Object Type: painting
Artist Nationality: Europe, Italian
Medium and Support: Oil on canvas
Credit Line: Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Archer M. Huntington Museum Fund, 1984
Accession Number: 1984.54

Santi di Tito was the first and most important Florentine painter to reform the dominant, Mannerist style of Vasari and his circle. He was himself schooled in that style, its Roman equivalent, and especially the work of Bronzino, but even his earliest paintings show a reaction against its complex artifice and a return to the simpler compositions and clearer rhetoric of the High Renaissance and Raphael in particular. Later, stimulated by Venetian painting, Santi’s added to these deliberately conservative schemes a more naturalistic color and atmospheric light that were new to Florentine painting. His works after around 1570 represent the school’s best examples of Counter Reformation style and best predictions of the early Baroque. Many of the principal painters of the next generation would come from his workshop.

Sent by Abraham to find a wife for Isaac, Eliezar came upon Rebecca, who offered him and his camels drink in the predicted sign of the right woman (Genesis 25: 46). This painting renders the following moment as Eliezar explains to Rebecca her destiny and his attendants ready gifts in betrothal, but she for the time being resists. The subject, large size, low viewpoint, and generally broad handling of this painting indicate that it was created as an altarpiece, probably on an aisle or in a side chapel of a major church. Santi contributed very comparable works to programs for the renovation of the Florentine churches of Santa Croce and Santa Maria Novella. Characteristic are the painting’s relatively simple organization, plain exposition, and quiet dignity, while the Venetian influence is pronounced in the diagonal compositional structure, fused color, and coherent illumination. This is a rare kind of work outside Italy and a major example of Santa’s early maturity .

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