LAIRESSE, Gérard de
(b. 1641, Liège, d. 1711, The Hague)
Hagar in the Desert1675-80
Oil on canvas, 74 x 60 cm
The Hermitage, St. Petersburg
Hagar, the Egyptian hand maiden of Sarah was the mother of Ishmael, Abraham's first son. When Isaac, Sarah's son, was born Ishmael mocked his younger brother so that Sarah asked Abraham to banish him, together with his mother. Abraham provided them with bread and a bottle of water and sent them off into the desert of Beersheba. When the water was spent Hagar put Ismael under a bush to die and then sat some way off, weeping. But an angel appeared, by tradition the archangel Michael, and disclosed a well of water near by, so they were both saved. Two scenes, the banishment, and the appearence of the angel are common in 17th century Italian and Dutch painting.