TIEPOLO, Giovanni Battista
(b. 1696, Venezia, d. 1770, Madrid)
Hagar and Ishmael in the Wilderness1724-29
Palazzo Patriarcale, Udine
This is one of the two outer scenes on the ceiling of the Gallery.
Hagar, Abraham's handmaiden, with whom he had conceived the illegitimate son Ishmael, had been driven from the house by Sarah. The theme of this representation is the appearance of the angel, who saves the completely exhausted Hagar, leaning against an empty barrel in the desert, and her son from dying of thirst, and who prophecies that Ishmael shall be made the "father of many nations". With an energetic gesture he points out the way, which, in reference to the central ceiling painting The Sacrifice of Isaac, leads away from the divine light. This symbolizes the biblical belief that the Arab nations derive from Ishmael's line of descendants, who, unlike the children of Isaac, will not inherit the divine Jerusalem.