Tuesday 14 December 2010

At Auction 17th Century Panel of Rebecca and Isaac

This mid 17 century English silk embroidered panel measures just 11cm x 13.5cm and could be the side panel of a casket. It is Lot 55 for auction at Halls Fine Art Auctioneers, Shrewsbury tomorrow 15 December. It is described simply as an elegant lady and gentleman with clasped hands in a landscape with distant castle which indeed is true. But there are two clues here which mean we can be a little more specific. The first is the kneeling camel, not a usual feature of the English countryside, and second, the gesture of the woman's hand to her hair, as if she is arranging it-or arranging something she might be wearing in that position, such as a veil. This gesture is known to us from more complete panels of the period which represent the meeting for the first time of Rebecca and Isaac, after she has been brought back via a camel train by Eliezer. She is covering her face in modesty. Even in the mid 17th century there would have been resonances with the less successful journey in 1623 of the Duke of Buckingham and Prince Charles to Spain in order to court the Spanish Infanta. The panel has an estimate of £150-£200.

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