Bartolomé Esteban Murillo

Abraham and the Three Angels

c. 1670-1674
Abraham welcomes unexpected visitors to his home. The three men are angels sent to announce that his wife, the aged Sarah, will miraculously bear him a son who will become the father of the Jewish people. Christian tradition interprets the story as the prefiguration of the events to come in the New Testament, and the three angels as the Trinity. It is also an exemplary image of charity: Murillo shows the angels as pilgrims, with Abraham humbly begging them to accept his hospitality. The duty of sheltering the homeless was one of the seven Acts of Mercy and this painting comes from a set of canvases illustrating the Acts. The set was commissioned by a brotherhood devoted to charity for the church of the Hospital de la Caridad in Seville; the paintings are now dispersed around the world. Frame: carved wood, gilded. Britain, c. 1840. Made for the work
Title
Abraham and the Three Angels
Date
c. 1670-1674
Medium
Painting
Materials
oil on canvas
Dimensions
236.2 x 261.5 cm
Nationality
Spanish
Credit line
Purchased 1948
Accession number
4900