Abraham Casting Out Hagar and Ishmael

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, Abraham Casting Out Hagar and Ishmael, 1657. Oil on canvas, Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan.

Guercino was an Italian Baroque painter from the northern Italian region of Emilia. Along with many artists in his region he was reacting to the old style of dramatic Mannerist painting of the previous generation. The new style was clear, simple, and direct and worked well with the Counter-Reformation edict that in religious art there should be no barriers between observer and object. Here Abraham is shown casting out his slave Hagar and their son Ishmael in order to placate his wife Sarah’s after she becomes pregnant. The story is made clear with Abraham’s rhetorical gestures, Ishmael’s tears and with Sarah turning away from the scene.