Catalogue No. 68
Jacob with the Flock of Laban

Artist: Ribera, Juseppe de , Studio of
Jacob with the Flock of Laban

(?) 1591-1652
Oil on Canvas 72 x 93½ ins.

Collection Details
Sold anonymously at Christie’s, 12 April 1940, lot 169; bt by Matthiesen.  Date of acquisition by Lord Faringdon not recorded.

 

Related Pictures
This is one of a number of repetitions of the dated picture of 1632 in the Escorial, of which a good example in the reverse direction is at Knowsley (cf Scharf, Catalogue of Pictures, 1875, No. 125).

Background
The scene does not appear to represent, as has sometimes been concluded, the specific incident of the placing of the peeled wands in the watering troughs (Genesis xxx), which is explicit in a variant of the composition known by an old copy in the Museo Cerralbo, Madrid.  E de Gué Trapier (Ribera, 1952, pp.84–5) suggests that the subject may symbolise Christ as the Good Shepherd.  In view of Jacob’s association in other ways with the New Testament (eg, his escape from Esau to his uncle, Laban, is a prototype of the Flight into Egypt), this seems credible.  The medieval note in the background of the picture, the small representation of Jacob asleep, was later used in a full-scale work by Ribera (Prado: the date is indistinct but is read by Trapier as 1639).  The model for Laban was also used for the St Joseph in Ribera’s lost St Joseph as Carpenter, a copy of which is in the Prado (repd by Trapier, op cit, fig.157).