The story concerns the prophecy delivered by three angels to Abraham that his wife Sarah would soon give birth to a son, despite them both being 'old and well-stricken with age.' Rembrandt has changed the usual setting of the encounter from a tent to a rather substantial and comfortable looking house, copying the arrangement of the figures from a Mughal miniature showing four dervishes sitting under a tree. The winged angels retain something of their oriental origins, and have a touching home-spun quality about them - Rembrandt is clearly interested in depicting the encounter in human terms.
The plate for this print was one of the few to have survived to the present day without having been re-worked by subsequent hands. For reasons unknown it left Rembrandt's possession, to be rediscovered at Christie's almost three and a half centuries later, on the back of an oil by Pieter Gysels (1620-91). A possible explanation is suggested by the year in which the plate was excuted - the same year in which the artist was declared bankrupt. Although no plates were listed in the inventory prepared at the time - Rembrandt clearly saw them as the only working capital from which to obtain future income - some may have been pawned for future but unrealised retrieval or sold to friends. The plate was sold in these rooms in 1997 for £210,500 to the National Gallery of Art, Washington.