price: U.S. $9,000

Genoese, perhaps Bartolomeo Biscaino

17th century

Hagar and Ishmael, two drawings

some traces of black chalk underdrawing, pen & red ink, brush & red wash, white gouache heightening on blue paper. laid down. 81/2 x 63/8" & 81/2 x 6" (21.5 x 16.2cm & 21.5 x 15.2cm)

Dr. William Suida, Vienna & NY;
by descent, private collection, CT

Hagar had been the servant of Sarah who was barren. Upon the latter's orders, Hagar slept with Abraham, Sarah's husband, and conceived Ishmael. Sarah became unpleasant to Hagar, especially after she conceived and gave birth to Isaac. So Hagar left with her son to return to Egypt. However, they ran out of water, Isaac was near death and Hagar very distraught before the angel of god appeared to both provide a spring and to announce that Ishmael would become father to a new race.

These alternative compositions both depict the same moment of this story from Genesis (16 & 21). The artist is either searching for the best composition, or having worked up both ideas to such a finished state, planned to present both to the client so that the latter may choose. The choice of media, especially the red ink & wash, while not unknown in Italian baroque drawings, is unusual. And Genoa was a city of inventive artists who like Biscaino, of whom these drawings remind me, used various medium including red chalk on blue paper. Ursula Fischer Pace also thinks these are Genoese, earlier than Baciccio.1


In an e-mail of December. 2011.