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The Unprecedented Bible Portraits of Francisco de Zurbarán

In his paintings of Jacob and his twelve sons, the 17th-century Spanish master humanizes his subjects, rendering them approachable and individual rather than remote and ethereal.

From Dan by Francisco de Zurbarán, 1640–45. Frick Collection/Auckland Castle Trust/Zurbarán Trust.

From Dan by Francisco de Zurbarán, 1640–45. Frick Collection/Auckland Castle Trust/Zurbarán Trust.

Observation
March 14 2018
About the author

Menachem Wecker, a freelance journalist based in Washington DC, covers art, culture, religion, and education for a variety of publications.


With the sons of Jacob cowering before him, the fearsome viceroy of Egypt finally reveals himself as none other than their brother Joseph, whom they had long ago conspired against and sold into slavery. He thereby takes the final step toward fulfilling his youthful dream of seeing his family bow down to him—while simultaneously orchestrating a joyous family reunion. The story is told with incomparable artistry in chapters 42-44 of Genesis.

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More about: Arts & Culture, Francisco de Zurbarán, Hebrew Bible, Painting, Religion & Holidays