Peter Paul Rubens 1577 – 1640
The Meeting of David and Abigail
oil on panel (45 × 68 cm) — c. 1630 National Gallery of Art, Washington DC
This work is linked to 1 Samuel 25:24
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David had fled for king Saul and is hiding in the mountains near the Dead Sea. He and his men need provisions. David sends ten men to Nabal, a rich farmer whose herds graze in the area. They kindly ask Nabal whether he could provide some food for David's small army. Nabal curtly refuses and offends David. When the men return empty handed and tell of their meeting with Nabal, David sets of in anger and decides to annihilate Nabal and his people.
One of Nabal's assistants warns Abigail, Nabal's wise and attractive wife. Without hesitation she gathers all sorts of food and sets out towards David. When they meet, David is impressed by her action and appearance. He accepts her plea and lets the matter rest.
When Nabal hears of his wife's actions, he dies within ten days. Abigail would later become one of David's many wives.
Rubens had given attention to the story previously. His workshop produced an almost identical painting a few years before he made this panel. It is larger and painted on canvas. It is in the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.
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