SPINELLI, Giovanni Battista
(active in Naples from ca. 1630; d. ca. 1660)

Hagar and the Angel

Oil on canvas, 241 x 189 cm
Private collection

Ishmael was Abraham's first son and his mother was Hagar, the Egyptian Handmaiden of Sarah. When Sarah's son, Isaac 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 Ishmael under a bush to die and then sat some way off, weeping. But an angel appeared and disclosed a well of water nearby, so they were both saved. The scene of the appearance of the angel was common in 17th-century Italian and Dutch painting.