Read about the artist in The Archives
Heroic landscape, with Hagar and Ishmael (?), 1809-1810
Oil on canvas. 87,6 x 116,4 cm
Inventory number: B157
The literary background for this scene was presumably the Old Testament story of the infertile Sara, who let her Egyptian slave Hagar give birth to a son to her husband Abraham. The son Ismael is born, but when, against all expectations, Sara later gives birth to Isaac, she persuades Abraham to sent Hagar and Ismael away. It is perhaps the mother and son on their way away from Abraham and Sara’s home that we see in the picture. They have food and drink with them, but these supplies are used up in the desert and the two would have died of thirst if an angel had not intervened to help them. They survive, and together with her son Ismael, Hagar becomes the first ancestress of the Arab people.
Everywhere in the picture we find presages of Hagar and Ismael’s wanderings in the desert. On their way from Abraham’s house, they first pass two women carrying water from the well, then a rushing stream and finally a wanderer drinking from his water bag.
This is one of Schick’s first experiments in the realm of landscape painting, possibly done for Thorvaldsen as a companion piece to Heroic Landscape with Ruth and Boas, and so it must have been painted immediately after that. On account of illness, Schick left Rome in autumn 1811 and died just before Christmas.