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.