Hagar and Ishmael
25.1 cm x 20 cm (9 7/8 in. x 7 7/8 in.)
Giovanni Battista Tiepolo
(Venice, Italy, 1696 - 1770, Madrid, Spain)
Medium and Support:
Pen and brown ink over black chalk on cream antique laid paper
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, The Suida-Manning Collection, 2017
Capturing the first creative idea seemingly with the speed of thought itself, this is an early study for the composition of the Hagar and Ishmael in the Scuola di San Rocco, Venice, an especially beautiful painting of Tiepolo’s early maturity. Hagar, Abraham’s second wife, and their son, Ishmael, were forced into the wilderness by the jealousy of the first wife, Sarah. Ishmael was about to expire when an angel appeared, directed Hagar to a spring, and foretold the nation to come from both Isaac and Ishmael’s sons. The drawing renders Hagar in profile, first on the left, then on the right, as in the painting. Ishmael lies at the base of the composition, but reversed from his eventual direction. Above, the angel gestures, only from a more frontal posture and more emphatically than in the painting. Very few such studies by Tiepolo, so quick, unselfconscious, and essential, have been identified.