The Birth of Esau and Jacob

Master of Jean de Mandevilleabout 1360 - 1370

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The miniature prefacing the Genesis story of the birth of Isaac¿s twin sons Esau and Jacob depicts the episode as if it were occurring in the 1300s. Rebecca, wearing a noblewoman¿s wimple, reclines in a fourteenth-century style bed after giving birth. Swathed in draperies that carefully reveal the shape of her body, she twists beneath the grisaille bedsheets. Against a brightly patterned ground, the midwives prepare the newborn infants for their bath. The women¿s gestures suggest that they are conversing with one another, lending liveliness to the scene. In the biblical text, Esau is described as particularly hairy at birth, a detail the illuminator chose not to include. Neither did the illuminator raise the theme of rivalry that would dominate the brothers¿ relationship.

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  • Title: The Birth of Esau and Jacob
  • Date Created: about 1360 - 1370
  • Location Created: Paris, France
  • Physical Dimensions: w26 x h34.9 cm
  • Type: Folio
  • Rights: http://www.getty.edu/legal/copyright.html
  • External Link: http://www.getty.edu/art/gettyguide/artObjectDetails?artobj=2899
  • Medium: "Tempera colors, gold, and ink on parchment"
  • illuminator: Master of Jean de Mandeville (French, active 1350 - 1370)
  • Terms of Use: http://www.getty.edu/legal/copyright.html
  • Subject: Births, Esau, Jacob, Rebecca