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Annotated works


(Murcia, 1580-Valencia, 1645)

The Sacrifice of Isaac

Oil on canvas

133,5 x 167 cm

c. 1616

Baroque (17th Century)

N.° inv. 82/3

Donated by Luis Castells Tohá, in memory of his wife Carmen Bertendona, in 1975

ORRENTE, Pedro on Online collection

This painting by Orrente is one of the most valuable representations of the well-known passage from the Genesis in which Abraham is asked by Yahweh to sacrifice his son Isaac, but is stopped by an angel who points to the lamb that will be sacrificed instead. Orrente, who travelled to Italy and worked in the Venetian workshop of Leandro Bassano, also had occasion to discover the pictorial revolution led by Caravaggio and his followers.

This composition is clearly imbued with Caravaggism in the treatment of light, that falls harshly on the naked body of young Isaac, beautifully drawn, and on the face and the hand of the angel pointing to the lamb, while the rest of the composition remains in semi-darkness. Highly naturalistic are the logs in the foreground, the stones on the sacrificial altar, the lamb's wool and even the head of elderly Abraham, treated with rigorous realism.

Several versions are known of this composition that prove its success. One of them was attributed to the Valencian painter Jerónimo Jacinto de Espinosa, who was obviously influenced by Orrente when the latter lived in Valencia. In fact, Orrente's impact can be traced in all Valencian artists of the time, particularly in the Venetian quality of their brushstrokes and in their sumptuous use of colour.  [A.E.P.S.]

Selected bibliography:

David Martin Kowal. "El sacrificio de Isaac : una obra inédita de Pedro Orrente" en Archivo Español de Arte, nº 200. 1977, pp. 429-432, il. 21.

Alfonso Emilio Pérez Sánchez. "En el centenario de Orrente : 'addenda' a su catálogo"en Archivo Español de Arte, nº 209. 1980, p. 10.

Fernando Benito Domenech. Pinturas y Pintores en el Real Colegio de Corpus Christi. Valencia : 1980, p. 289.

Ana Sánchez-Lassa de los Santos. "Conservación y restauración en el Museo"en Urtekaria 1983 : asterlanak, albistak = anuario 1983 : estudios, crónicas. Bilbao : Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao = Bilboko Arte Ederretako Museoa, 1984, pp. 11-30.

Fernando Benito Doménech. Los Ribalta y la pintura valenciana de su tiempo. [Cat. exp.]. Valencia : Diputación Provincial de Valencia, 1987, pp. 264-265, n.º 75. 

Capolavori dal Museo di Bellas Artes di Bilbao. [Cat. exp.]. Roma : Leonardo-De Luca, 1991, n.º 2.

Ana María Galilea Antón. Catalogación y estudio de los fondos de Pintura Española del Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao del siglo XIII al XVIII (de 1270 a 1700).[Tesis inédita]. Zaragoza : Universidad de Zaragoza, 1993, vol. I. pp. 668-676, vol. II. pp. 360 y 361, il. 267, 267a.

Ana María Galilea Antón. "La colección de Pintura Española anterior a 1700 en el Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao" en Urtekaria 1994: asterlanak, albistak = Anuario 1994: estudios, crónicas. Bilbao : Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao = Bilboko Arte Ederretako Museoa, 1995, pp. 7- 42.

Spanyol Mestermüvek a Bilbaói Szépmüvészeti Múzeumból. [Cat. exp.]. Bilbao : Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao = Bilboko Arte Ederretako Museoa ; Banco Bilbao Vizcaya, 1996, pp. 65-67, n.º 6.

Bilbao a Genova : la cultura cambia le città. [Cat. exp.]. Milano : Skira, 2003, pp. 78 y 79, n.º 3.

Caravaggio y la pintura realista europea. [Cat. exp.]. Barcelona : Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, 2005, pp. 222-225.

Corps et ombres : Caravage et le Caravagisme Européen. [Cat. exp.]. Milan ; Montpellier ; Toulouse : 5 Continents ; Musée Fabre de Montpellier Agglomération ; Musée des Augustins, 2012, pp. 328-330.

Alfonso E. Pérez Sánchez. Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao : guía. Bilbao : Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao = Bilboko Arte Ederretako Museoa, 2011 (1ª ed. 2006; ed. inglés; ed. francés; ed. euskera), p. 54, n.º 37, ad vocem

Annotated works