Juan Antonio de Frías y Escalante, Prudent Abigail, 1667, oil on canvas, Madrid, Museo del Prado

David holds back his angry soldiers with his shield while Abigail presents him with lambs, cattle, camels, and bread for his troops. David has just been refused assistance by Abigail’s husband, Nadal, and she has taken it upon herself to save her household by appeasing David and convincing him not to slaughter her people.

A prolific young Spanish painter, Escalante painted this piece as part of a series of eighteen canvases with biblical themes, which he painted between 1667 and 1668, for the sacristy of the Merced Calzada in Madrid. His biblical characters appear with very rich contemporary costumes intending to enhance their magnificence as these were displayed in very elite settings.

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