Il sacrificio di Isacco (c.1653)

Giordano, Luca (1634-1705)

Il sacrificio di Isacco (The Sacrifice of Isaac)
Oil on canvas, 85 x 124 cm
Museo del PradoMadrid

God tested Abraham by asking him to sacrifice his son Isaac. Arriving at the chosen place, Abraham built an altar, piled up wood, tied his son and prepared to fulfill his word, at which point an angel stopped his arm, showing him a ram sent by God to perform the sacrifice with him (Genesis 22: 1-19). Giordano arranged the composition according to a double diagonal. The figures appear as a descending frieze from the angel on the left, passing through Abraham or the resigned Isaac, concluding with the torch mentioned in the biblical episode in the lower right corner. In the background, a steep hillside that descends to the left closes off the composition. In its lower part, a third plane opens up in which a city appears described with shallow bluish brushstrokes. The painter chose, as is usual in the representation of this scene, the moment of greatest drama, when old Abraham is about to slaughter to his son, who has meekly assumed his sacrifice. The angel stops the father’s arm and tells him to replace his firstborn with the ram sent by God, located to the right of the altar. The drama is accentuated by the fluttering of the pinkish cloaks that cover the patriarch and the angel; or by the blue cloth that, with no apparent practical purpose, flies over him. (MNP)