01 Work, Interpretation of the bible, Francesco Furinis Rachel giving birth to Joseph, with Footnotes — #178

Francesco Furini (Florence 1604–1646)
Rachel giving birth to Joseph

Oil on canvas
205.1 x 161.9cm (80 3/4 x 63 3/4in)
Private collection

Rachel is first mentioned in the Hebrew Bible in Genesis 29 when Jacob happens upon her as she is about to water her father’s flock. She was the second daughter of Laban. Jacob had traveled a great distance to find Laban. His mother Rebekah had sent him there to be safe from his furious twin brother, Esau.

During Jacob’s stay, he fell in love with Rachel and agreed to work seven years for Laban in return for her hand in marriage. On the night of the wedding, the bride was veiled and Jacob did not notice that Leah, Rachel’s older sister, had been substituted for Rachel. Whereas “Rachel was lovely in form and beautiful,” “Leah had tender eyes”. Later Jacob confronted Laban, who excused his own deception by insisting that the older sister should marry first. He assured Jacob that after his wedding week was finished, he could take Rachel as a wife as well, and work another seven years as payment for her. When God “saw that Leah was unloved, he opened her womb”, and she gave birth to four sons.

Rachel was unable to conceive, and became jealous of Leah. She gave Jacob her maidservant, Bilhah, to be a surrogate mother for her. Bilhah gave birth to two sons that Rachel named and raised. Leah responds by offering her handmaid Zilpah to Jacob, and names and raises the two sons that Zilpah bears. After Leah conceived again, Rachel was finally blessed with a son, Joseph. More on Rachel

Francesco Furini (c. 1600 (or 1603) — August 19, 1646) was an Italian Baroque painter of Florence, noted for his sensual sfumato style in paintings of both secular and religious subjects.

He was born in Florence to an artistic family. Furini’s early training was by Matteo Rosselli. Traveling to Rome in 1619, he also would have been exposed to the influence of Caravaggio.

Furini’s work reflects the tension faced by the conservative, mannerist style of Florence when confronting then novel Baroque styles. He is a painter of biblical and mythological set-pieces with a strong use of the misty sfumato technique. An important early work, Hylas and the Nymphs (1630), features six female nudes that attest to the importance Furini placed upon drawing from life.

Furini became a priest in 1633 for the parish of Sant’Ansano in Mugello. Furini traveled to Rome again in the year before his death in 1646. More on Francesco Furini

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