The subject is taken from Genesis, Chapter 27, which tells how Jacob tricked his dying father, the blind Isaac, into giving him the blessing that rightfully belonged to his elder brother, Esau. Isaac's wife, Rebekah, is shown looking on. The deception - a simple matter of applying animal skins to imitate Esau’s hairy arms - was her idea as Jacob was her favourite son.

Desenfans bought this work in 1785 believing it to be by Rembrandt. The picture was later attributed to various followers of Rembrandt until, in the 1950s, cleaning revealed the signature of Horst, a well known imitator of Rembrandt.


  • Title: Isaac blessing Jacob
  • Date: 1638
  • Physical Dimensions: w2013 x h1632 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil
  • null: The subject is from Genesis XXVII, 22-3: on the instruction of Rebekah, Jacob impersonates his brother Esau to receive the blessing of his father, Isaac.Catalogued as Rembrandt until 1880, when Richter proposed an attribution to Jan Victors. The signature was revealed on removal of a false Jan Victors signature during cleaning in 1952-3. Horst treated the subject on at least two other occasions (Sumowski, nos.907, 909).A very similar picture, in reverse, was formerly in the Berlin Museum, attributed to Horst.
  • Work Nationality: Dutch
  • Support: Canvas
  • Provenance: London, Noel Desenfans, 1784-1807: London, Christie's, Desenfans sale, 13 May, 1785, lot 74 (as Rembrandt); London, Christie's, Desenfans private sale, 8ff. Apr. 1786, lot 191; London, Desenfans private sale, 8ff. Jun. 1786, lot 191; London, Christie's, Desenfans sale, 14 Jul. 1786, lot 69; London, Skinner and Dyke, 27 Feb. 1795, lot 98; London, Sir Francis Bourgeois, 1807-1811; Bourgeois Bequest, 1811.
  • Inscriptions: Horst
  • Further Information: Gerrit Willemsz Horst (c.1612-1652) was a Dutch painter. He may have been an assistant in Rembrandt’s workshop, but there is very little evidence to support this in his attributed works. He specialised in historical and Biblical subjects (especially from the Old Testament). Horst treated the subject on at least two other occasions, most notably in a picture formerly in Kaiser Friedrich-Museum, Berlin (lost during the Second World War) that again showed Jacob with a quiver of arrows.
  • Artist: Horst, Gerrit Willemsz.
  • Acquisition Method: Bourgeois, Sir Peter Francis (Bequest, 1811)

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