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Rebecca at the Well, 1838-1839

Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot

French, 1796-1875
Oil on canvas
19-3/4 x 29-1/4 in. (50.2 x 74.3 cm)
The Norton Simon Foundation
© The Norton Simon Foundation

On view

In the book of Genesis, Abraham sends his servant Eliezer out to find a bride for his son Isaac. Eliezer comes upon Rebecca, a stranger, who draws water from a well for him and all his camels. Recognizing her kindness, he identifies her as a suitable bride for Isaac and gives her a ring as a token of gratitude. Nicolas Poussin, progenitor of the French classical tradition, famously painted the encounter of Rebecca and Eliezer in the seventeenth century (a picture today in the Louvre), and many artists followed suit. But in this succinct treatment of the story, Corot included only Rebecca, waiting with her jug beside the well, no ring in evidence. Seated on the ground, she looks up expectantly, as if just catching sight of Eliezer.

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