Peter Paul Rubens 1577 – 1640

The Reconciliation of Jacob and Esau

oil on canvas (43 × 40 cm) — c. 1625-1628 Museum Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh

Peter Paul Rubens biography

This work is linked to Genesis 33:4

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Tags: Jacob

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The twins Jacob and Esau were at odds after Jacob had deceived Esau, the elder brother: he acquired Esau's birth right for a cup of soup and tricked their father into blessing him in stead of Esau. Jacob had to flee as Esau planned to kill him. After a while they reconciled. After that, they lived peacefully next to each other.

Jacob is the man in the centre, in blue. In his company are several women and children. According to Genesis, Jacob had put his wife Rachel and favourite son Joseph in the back of the group: just in case Esau might have bad intentions.

This painting is a sketch that Rubens made before he would let his workshop proceed with the final canvas, which was to be much larger: 3.3 meters in height. The sketch was probably shown to the commissioner for approval. The final version now is in the Alte Pinakothek in Munich.

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