Jacopo Vignali trained under Matteo Rosselli entering his studio in Florence in circa 1605 at the age of only thirteen. In 1616 he joined the Accademia del Disegno becoming an academician in 1622. Although Rosselli was to have a lasting influence on his pupil's oeuvre, Vignali gradually evolved his own style distinguished by dramatic light effects, rich colour and painterly technique and a particularly poetic and emotional interpretation of his subjects. His most famous pupil was Carlo Dolci who was profoundly affected by the intensity of his religious works.
This hitherto unrecorded picture constitutes a notable addition to Vignali's oeuvre and is an entirely characteristic example of his monumental mature style. Stylistically, it may be compared with the Dying Warrior helped by Faith (Museo Civico, Pistoia), which has been dated to circa 1635 and the Hagar and the Angel, dated 1632 (formerly with Colnaghi, London), which share the same interest in landscape, a rich handling of paint and delicate modelling of the flesh tones. The use of contemporary costume in depicting a biblical scene and the theatrical elegance of the composition as a whole are illustrative not only of Vignali's style but of broader trends within Florentine painting in the period.
The subject, from Genesis: 24, is handled with typical sensitivity and lyricism by Vignali. Eliezer a servant of the patriarch Abraham was sent to Mesopatamia to find a suitable wife for his son Isaac. In Nahor in Chaldea he prayed for guidance asking that whoever provided him and his camels with water would be an eligible woman. This proved to be Rebecca who is depicted here with her maidservants inviting Eliezer to drink from her jar.
We are grateful to Professor Francesca Baldassari for confirming the attribution after inspection of the original. She points to another treatment of the subject by Vignali in the Pisa collection, Florence, which adopts a vertical format and is unrelated in terms of composition (see G. Ewald, 'Opere Sonosciuto di Jacopo Vignali', Antichita Viva, III/7-8, 1964, pp. 7-27, fig. 9).