About this artwork

This lively oil sketch illustrates the Old Testament story of Jacob making peace with his twin brother Esau, many years after he had robbed Esau of his birthright. It is the model (‘modello’) or final design from a series of preparatory studies made for a large painting of the subject (in the Alte Pinakothek, Munich). Such works were often shown to the patron of a commissioned painting for approval. In Rubens’s phenomenally busy studio, oil sketches helped guide assistants as they worked up a painting following the master’s design. A work like this was highly prized because it was entirely by Rubens himself.

Updated before 2020

  • artist:
  • title:
    The Reconciliation of Jacob and Esau
  • date created:
    About 1625 - 1628
  • materials:
    Oil on panel
  • measurements:
    42.50 x 40.30 cm (framed: 55.40 x 52.20 x 6.50 cm)
  • object type:
  • credit line:
    Scottish National Gallery. Edinburgh. Accepted by H.M. Government in lieu of inheritance tax and allocated to the National Gallery of Scotland, 1980.
  • accession number:
    NG 2397
  • gallery:
  • depicted:
  • subject:
  • glossary:
  • photographer:
    Antonia Reeve
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Sir Peter Paul Rubens

Sir Peter Paul Rubens