The Golden AgeEnlarge image

The Golden Age, c. 1780-1789

Benjamin West
American, British, 1738 - 1820
pen and brown ink with brown wash over traces of graphite on laid paper, laid down on wove paper ?
32.4 x 41.2 cm
Purchased 1938
National Gallery of Canada (no. 5076)

First exhibited as "A Domestic Scene", but engraved with the title "The Golden Age", West's painting of 1776 probably presents an Old Testament scene with Hagar and the baby Ishmael in the foreground and Abraham and Sarah in the background. Alluding, through the baby, the young mother, and the elderly couple, to the Three Ages of Man, this drawing appears to be a later repetition rather than a preparatory study for the painting, for which the artist's wife posed as the young mother.


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