The artist's signature, visible at the foot of the well, indicates that this painting was executed in 1729; the same year that the artist received the cross of the Order of the Golden Spur, an event that is often recorded in his signature by the presence of the titles 'cavaliere' or 'eques'. Stylistically, this painting is consistent with Conca's oeuvre during this period, as exemplified by works such as The Miracle of Saint Turibius, now in the Vatican Museums (dated 1726) and The Departure of Rinaldo in the Pinacoteca Nazionale, Perugia (dated 1731; see G. Sestieri, in Sebastiano Conca, exhibition catalogue, Gaeta, 1981, nos. 33a and 48). The pose of Rachel is almost identical with the figure of the Samaritan in Christ and the Woman of Samaria from the Lemme collection, for which Sestieri proposes a date as early as the second decade of the 17th century (Sestieri, op. cit., no. 15). The warm tonalities and the thick impasto still echo the works executed by Conca after 1707, when he had just arrived in Rome, such as the Allegories in the Galleria Spada and the Adoration of the Magi in the Galleria Corsini. However, the bright palette used for the drapery of Jacob and Rachel suggest that Conca was already familiar with the works of Corrado Giaquinto, who only arrived in Rome after 1727, and with whom Conca had worked in the studio of Francesco Solimena in Naples. The theatrical structure of the composition is also characteristic of Conca's production from the early 17th century. Key in this aspect must have been the patronage of Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni, who cultivated a keen interest in the music and theatre of his age.
We are grateful to Mario Epifani for his assistance in cataloguing this painting.