James Tissot, God’s Promises to Abram, 1896–1902. Gouache on board, The Jewish Museum, New York.
After his conversion to Catholicism, Tissot devoted his life to illustrating the Bible. He traveled to the Middle East several times, where he made studies of the landscape and people. This image, begun in the same year as his first trip to the Middle East, probably began as a study of a praying man. Abraham, kneeling, faces away from the viewer. He wears heavy Middle Eastern textiles and sits on a decorative rug. God’s promises come to him in the form of bright white rays of light, and Abraham holds own hand up to receive them.