It’s fascination at first sight with this Baroque era enameled bodice jewel. The sense of narrative urgency is arresting and immediate. Depicted is a woman in a state of distress, gazing wild-eyed at a guiding angel, with an infant reclining some distance away.
This scene comes from one of the more unusual episodes of the Biblical canon:
And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away: and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba.
And the water was spent in the bottle, and she cast the child under one of the shrubs.
And she went, and sat her down over against him a good way off, as it were a bow shot: for she said, let me not see the death of the child. And she sat over against him, and lift up her voice, and wept.
And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is. Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation.
And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink.Genesis 21:14–19 (King James Version)
Consider the predicament: a mother and child have been cast out and made homeless in the wilderness. Bread and water run out. Rather than witness the death of her child, the mother hides him under a shrub to weep alone. Deliverance takes the form of an angel and a source of water.
In the enamel plaque shown above and below, Hagar and the angel dominate the composition, but clever visual cues help viewers “read” the image alongside Genesis 21:14–19. In the lower right corner, Hagar clutches an empty water vessel, while an infant Ishmael slumps beneath the shade of shrubs, with water evident in the left corner.
According to Genesis, this ordeal springs from a household dispute surrounding inheritance and legitimacy, in what is essentially a domestic power struggle between rival women and rival heirs.
Abraham, the biblical patriarch of patriarchs, is without heir, so the telling goes. His wife Sarah is aging and barren. Hagar, a bondwoman purchased in Egypt to serve Sarah, is directed by her mistress to bear an heir for Abraham. The resulting concubinage produces a son, Ishmael. Changed household dynamics create tension between Sarah and Hagar, with the concubine becoming “proud”, and the wife mistreating the concubine she’s elevated for the sake of surrogacy. When Sarah later gives birth to her own son, Isaac, power dynamics are changed yet again. Who is now the true heir of Abraham? The eldest son (Ishmael)? Or the son born of the wife (Isaac)?
This story is made timeless by the archetypal familiarity of a succession feud: Sarah sees Ishmael as a threat to the rights and inheritance of Isaac; with the birth of a legitimate heir, Hagar and her son become redundant pretenders. A decision is soon made by Abraham to cast off his former heir and concubine, leading to the wilderness episode described by Genesis 21:14–19.
The tale of Hagar as depicted in 17th century painting: (Left) Sarah presenting Hagar to Abraham, c. 1699, by Adriaen van der Werff (1659–1722), source: Bavarian State Painting Collections.
(Center) Abraham Dismissing Hagar and Ishmael, c. 1653, by Nicolaes Maes (1634–1693), source: the MET.
(Right) The Angel Appearing to Hagar, c. 1658–59, School of Rembrandt, source: Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool.
The trio of paintings shown above, all dating to the 17th century, illustrate chronological events in the story: Sarah offering Hagar to Abraham for concubinage; Abraham casting out Hagar and Ishmael following the birth of Isaac; an angel appearing before Hagar in the wilderness.
The popularity of Hagar in 17th century art is accepted consensus among museum curators and art historians. One study counts around 140 known surviving examples of 17th c Hagar-themed paintings. This number suggests immense prolificacy, for it does not account for destroyed or lost examples, or unknown works by minor artists circulating in the private art market. A survey of surviving 17th c Amsterdam estate records alone yielded about 42 mentions of Hagar paintings owned by the city’s ruling elites. Many of these paintings would have been hung in the reception halls or other important living spaces of the home.
Depictions of Hagar have further survived in 17th century jewelry. A medallion in the British Museum features a late 17th c enameled plaque of Hagar and the angel. The composition appears to be based on works by Carel Fabritius, Ferdinand Bol, and others within the Rembrandt school, which feature standing angels, as well as central and vertically oriented figural groupings.
(Left) Hagar and the Angel, c. 1645, by Carel Fabritius ( 1622 – 1654), source: The Leiden Collection CF-100.
(Center) Hagar and the Angel, c. 1650, by Ferdinand Bol (1616 – 1680), source: Museum Pomorskie, Gdansk, © 2015, photo: Scala, Florence.
(Right) Enamelled medallion of Hagar and Angel, late 17th century (the diamond setting late 19th c), source: British Museum 1978,1002.547.
(Left) Hagar and the Angel, c. 1614, by Pieter Lastman (1583-1633), source: Los Angeles County Museum of Art M.85.117
(Center) An angel rescues Hagar and Ishmael in the wilderness, c. 1746 etching by Edward Rooker, based on a lost 17th c painting by Charles Le Brun (1619-1690). Source: The Wellcome Collection
(Right) Late 17th c enamel plaque of Hagar and Angel (setting c. 1750), source: Heart of Hearts Jewels
On the other hand, the example from Heart of Hearts Jewels is based on compositions with flying angels, with a horizontal orientation (Ishmael to the left, angel and Hagar spreading right to center) and further landscapes. Surviving 17th century paintings of this type appear to originate throughout Europe, from Italy to France to the Netherlands.
To the extent that decorative arts echo popular themes and motifs of the day, and jewelry being one of the most personal forms of decoration, the survival and existence of the above-mentioned jewels further affirm the pervasiveness of Hagar in the 17th century popular imagination. Of further intrigue is the dignity and emotional resonance evident in these works, with the wilderness rescue scenes being particularly sympathetic to the plight of Hagar as a mother in distress.
But why? Why this particular subject during this particular century? What is it about the story of Hagar that so captured hearts and minds during the 17th century?
Let us first examine imagery and attitudes from centuries prior. Before the 16th century, church leaders denounced Hagar as a biblical antagonist, thereby excluding her from the kind of devotional and sacred art reserved for saints, prophets, and protagonists from the Abrahamic lineage.
Hagar, an Egyptian, is one of the first strangers in biblical record. Early texts in ancient Hebrew were written without vowels, allowing multiple pronunciations and meanings to words. The name Hagar may well imply “Hager”, Hebrew for “the stranger”. Thus the Hebrew phrase “Hagar hamitzrit” (Hagar the Egyptian) can be read as “Hager hamitzrit” (the stranger from Egypt).
It’s this “strangeness” that forms the fulcrum of early Christian Hagarian commentary. A stance of rejection and castigation is canonized by scripture— Paul the Apostle writes in Galatians 4:30-31, “Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.” Not only is her exile celebrated as a righteous purge, Hagar’s foreignness and subjugation becomes foil to the freedom and legitimacy of Sarah.
Throughout the medieval era, religious leaders drew on the expulsion of Hagar to represent and conceptualize the idea of Otherness. Abrahamic religions had grown into a complex web of sectarian difference, which not only generated theological and geopolitical conflicts, but also necessitated antecedent strains of “we vs they” identity politics.
Early art and imagery, if featuring Hagar at all, tend to be didactic illustrations accompanying religious text. In the two examples shown below, note the centrality of Abraham in the composition, as well as the placing of Sarah against the house, a symbol of legitimacy. The Otherness of Ishmael is signaled with darker skin tone in the right example below:
Medieval illustrations of the expulsion of Hagar. (Left) Speculum Historiale, 1463: Abraham sends Hagar away (BNF Fr. 50, fol. 44v). (Right) Manuscript unknown, from Klepper, D. (2015). “Historicizing Allegory: The Jew as Hagar in Medieval Christian Text and Image.” Church History, 84(2), 308-344.
This “Other-ing” of Hagar bore extraordinary levels of vitriol at various points in medieval history. In the 5th century CE, St. Augustine drew on “insolent Hagar” to attack those he considered “enemies of the church”. The 14th century theologian, John Wycliffe, compared the children of Sarah to the redeemed and those of Hagar to the unredeemed, who are “carnal by nature and mere exiles”. This branding of “exiles” further included those of the Jewish faith. According to a paper published in the journal Church History, 13th and 14th century Christian thinkers relied on Hagar as a rhetorical device “to establish, or at least support, specific policies restricting Jewish interaction with Christians […] The association of living Jews with the haughty, disrespectful, ungrateful servant sent away by Abraham provided an effective support for increasingly harsh treatment of Jews in Christian society.”
Indeed, depending on the occasion and the intended audience, Hagar and Ishmael variously represented Islamic Turks, Arabs, Jews, Saracens, Romani ‘gypsies’, heretics, schismatics, unbelievers, infidels, and non-Christians in general.
The destructive nature of such exclusionary rhetoric was made palpable in November 1095, when a vast crowd gathered at Clermont in Auvergne to hear the Pope speak. Urban II ascended the high pulpit in a market-place, and, stirring those assembled with a long and passionate speech, called for a holy war to recover sacred territory, possessed as it was by “a godless people, the children of the Egyptian handmaid”. Quoting Galatians 4:30, he cried, “Cast out the bondwoman and her son!” And so mobs of Christians flocked under the banner of the First Crusade, first indulging in antisemitic violence within Europe (such as the Rhineland massacres of 1096), before they themselves were annihilated in a Turkish ambush led by the Seljuk Kilij Arslan at the Battle of Civetot in October 1096.
(Left) The Expulsion of Hagar, c. 1520 – 1525, by Jan Mostaert (1475-1555), source: Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid Inv. no. 294(1930.77).
(Right) Hilly River Landscape with St. Christopher, c. 1520, by Jan Mostaert (1475-1555), source: Museum Mayer van den Bergh
It’s not until the 16th century that attitudes toward Hagarian lore saw re-evaluation and diversification. One of the earliest surviving oil painting of Hagar is a c. 1520-25 rendering by Jan Mostaert (see above left). In subject matter, this work is a continuation of Medieval preoccupation with the expulsion scene. Yet there’s remarkable departure from the didacticism and rejection of earlier works: Hagar is treated with dignity in a composition dense with psychological nuance. Hagar, rather than Abraham, occupies the visual center; Sarah is reduced to a shrinking figure in a distant house. Hagar and Ishmael are notably barefoot, a sign of humility and their lowly status—but also a feature associated with pilgrims and prophets. An open doorway shows the wilderness beyond, where the artist has also included Hagar’s encounter with the angel, lending the work a sense of trial and sojourn. Compare this treatment of Hagar with a portrayal of St. Christopher by the same artist (see above right): both occupy the center field; both are responsible for the welfare of a child; both are barefoot and bare-armed, poised for action. Like Hagar, St. Christopher’s humility is further cued by a simple water jug and loaf of bread.
Increasingly sympathetic views toward Hagar developed in concert with the Reformation. To help believers discover an intimate connection to the divine, Protestant literature developed a new “language of the heart” that emphasized emotional, inward, and lyrical dimensions of biblical episodes. Hagarian narrative was particularly suited for aspects of Protestant theology emphasizing personal belief, one rooted in a direct relationship with God, stripped of excessive rites like blessings, indulgences, and pardons. For many Protestant thinkers, Hagar’s direct interactions with the divine, regardless of her slave or foreigner status, show the literal blessing of God at work.
Commenting on Genesis 21, Wolfgang Musculus (1497-1532) points out that “no one is born without vices”, and that Hagar’s lamentatitive suffering mirrors that of Christ’s. Huldrych Zwingli (1484 – 1531) saw Hagar’s deliverance as an example of “God rescuing the pious who hope in him”. For Konrad Pellikan (1478-1556), Hagar and Ishmael are gentiles, who by virtue of believing, become members of the faithful. Peter Martyr Vermigli (1499 – 1562) pointed out that God heard when Hagar called out.
Reformation leaders from left to right: Wolfgang Musculus (1497-1532), Martin Luther (1483- 1546), Konrad Pellikan (1478-1556), Peter Martyr Vermigli (1499 – 1562)
The most empathetic assessment of Hagar would come from Martin Luther (1483- 1546). Like the Egyptian bondwoman, Luther became an exile in 1521 when his refusal to recant beliefs resulted in excommunication. “Most of us are like Hagar,” Luther would write, arguing to be like Hagar is to be “guided to faith” and engage in acts of “true worship”. For Luther, traditional interpretations of Hagar are insufficiently humane: Abraham and Sarah’s decision cannot be deemed righteous on account of succession politics alone. “Where is Abraham’s fatherly heart?” Luther asks, going as far as to compare his excommunication with the expulsion of Hagar:
Thus I am bearing the excommunication of the pope and the hatred of the entire world, but I do not for this reason approve or praise the pope as though he were doing what is right when he oppose the true doctrine and condemns and murders the members of Christ solely for the purpose of maintaining his rule.Martin Luther, Lecture on Genesis 16:6, given spring of 1535 in Wittenberg. Source: Luther’s Works. Ed. and trans. Jaroslav Pelikan. (1955-86)
In other words, just as Sarah’s need to maintain the rights of her son is not justification enough for the expulsion of Hagar, Christendom’s need to maintain power is not justification enough for condemnations and murders.
Although Lutheran reformers voiced some of the most sympathetic reassessments of Hagar, there too are instances of positive Catholic appraisals. In 1539, Thomas de Vio, the Cardinal Cajetan, compared Hagar’s experiences to that of the Virgin, writing that each “having been greeted by the angel, pondered the nature of that greeting.”
The influence of new Hagarian attitudes is evident in subsequently produced imagery. While surviving examples remain rare throughout the 16th century, by the early 17th there was an undeniable flowering of Hagar-themed paintings produced throughout Europe, regardless of the Catholic-Protestant divide.
The Angel appears to Hagar and Ishmael, c. 1640, by Gioacchino Assereto (1600-49), source: The National Gallery, London.
While all episodes from the Hargarian narrative continue to be portrayed, the wilderness rescue scene with angel increased dramatically in popularity and ubiquity. These works share tenors of poignancy and emotional resonance, regardless of artistic school or regional origin; the Hagar portrayed exhibit familiar feelings of desperation, anguish, and yearning.
The influence of Renaissance humanism must also be acknowledged. Beyond the eddies of niche theological debate, humanist ideals broadly pushed artists to show something about the human heart and condition. The story of Hagar proved especially tantalizing for artists because it is full of timeless conflicts involving marriage, sex, children, rivalry, jealousy, and suffering. The dramatic range offered is especially suitable for the intensity and exuberance of late Renaissance and Baroque taste.
In 17th c theological and intellectual thought, Hagarian motifs were ever more pertinent in an era rocked by instability. In parallel with sympathetic reappraisals offered by reformers, polemic use of Genesis 16-21 continued to exist in the traditional Pauline sense. Participants in the ongoing Protestant-Catholic conflict tapped Hagar to make sense of one’s position against that of the opponent’s, to variously attack foes, shore up legitimacy, or express notions of persecution. In the northern Netherlands, for instance, Protestant leaders flipped the script to claim the House of Abraham for the Dutch Reformed Church (the burgeoning Dutch Republic went as far as to call itself De Neerlands Israel—the Netherlandish Israel). In a 1616 Dutch play, it is Catholic Spain that’s ironically represented by Hagar, with the exile episode playing out as allegory for the ‘expulsion’ of the Catholic church by the Dutch Reformed Church.
(Left) CEDAT SERVA DOMINAE, LEX GRATIA, engraving by P.H. Schut, from Bybel printen, Vertoonende de voornaamste historien der Heylige Schrifture. Ambsterdam: N. Visscher, before 1674. Source: Universiteitsbibliotheek, Amsterdam.
(Right) Banishment of Hagar and Ishmael, c. 1690s, by Adriaen van der Werff (1659–1722), source: Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden.
Imagery from the expulsion scene continued to coexist with more sympathetic wilderness and angel works, functioning as polemic tools, didactic illustrations on household management,
or even bellwethers for sexual politics and eroticism.
Polygamy, divorce, and sexual politics were additional cultural flashpoints represented by Hagarian narrative. The Reformation sparked a re-examination of marriage, bringing with it a torrent of matrimonial scandals: reformers like Martin Luther broke monastic vows to marry; in England, divorce from Catholicism was indelibly tied to Henry VIII’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon; Philip I, Landgrave of Hesse, embraced Protestantism and bigamy with equal enthusiasm; elsewhere in the radical Anabaptist city of Münster, incidents of enforced polygamy were reported. The Thirty Years War ravaged some areas of Europe so badly that polygamy was seriously considered by Church leaders (Protestant and Catholic) to counteract depopulation. Pro-polygamy pamphlets circulated throughout Europe, gaining traction in cities like Nuremberg, where the adult male population was severely depleted. In arguments for and against polygamy, Hagarian narrative became a discussion medium, with proponents citing Hagar as biblical precedence, and opponents pointing out that polygamy brought conflict to Abraham’s household. Relevant images varied from instructive illustrations intended to reinforce proper household and marital management (see above left), to avatars for extramarital sex and eroticism (see above right; the artist Adriaen van der Werff is a well-known Baroque painter of erotic scenes).
All this is to say, people thought differently about Hagar and argued ferociously throughout the 17th century. But it is this ambiguity, controversy, and flexibility that made Hagar so pervasive a figure in the popular imagination. Depending on what was being argued about and who was doing the arguing, Hagar often entered the discussion as a symbol or analogy to spearhead a point.
As for the points that mattered to 17th century Europeans— the most pressing and poignant of all was perhaps the destruction of their own world, one which mirrored the harsh wilderness of Hagar’s exile.
Genesis 21 places Hagar in a state of powerlessness: she is homeless, migratory, disenfranchised, out of food and water in a hostile environment. Such were the conditions for many living in the 17th century. Cooling climates due to the Little Ice Age caused major crop failures throughout Europe; famines and economic breakdown triggered waves of rural-to-urban migration that resulted in unsustainable city populations. The general sense of crisis was further exacerbated by religious conflict. In Spain and Portugal, continuing mass expulsions displaced waves of Sephardic Jews and Morisco Muslims, with many seeking refuge in cities like Amsterdam, London, Bordeaux, and Lübeck. Ships crammed full of Huguenots—French protestants fleeing severe prosecution—bounded for British shores, with many dying at sea.
To cap it all off, the era was defined by incessant warfare (the Thirty Years’ War in Central Europe, the Eighty Years’ War in the low countries, the Portuguese Restoration War and the Franco-Spanish War in the Iberian peninsula, The Fronde in France, the English Civil War, revolts in Portugal, Naples, and Catalonia). At one point in the 1640s, almost all major European states were at arms. Some areas were embroiled in chaos for almost the entire century— Spain only saw 3 years of peace, France only 11, the Dutch Republic 14, and Poland 27.
(Left) Title page from The great frost: cold doings in London, except it be at the lotterie. Printed at London: For Henry Gosson, 1608. Attributed to Thomas Dekker Dekker (c. 1572-1632). Source: Houghton Library, Harvard University
(Right) A Frost Fair on the Thames at Temple Stairs, London, c. 1684, by Abraham Hondius (c.1625–1691), source: Museum of London
17th c temperatures were so cold that during several winters, the River Thames froze so thickly that it could bear horses, coaches and streets of shops. Frost Fairs were held. Above a frozen Thames, oxen were roasted in front of roaring fires, drink was liberally taken and dances were held. An elephant was marched across the river alongside Blackfriars Bridge.
Climate change, religious persecution, and war generated a refugee crisis: families were separated, homelands forsaken, and inheritances lost. Urban areas were confronted with massive influxes of foreigners, triggering overcrowding and outbreaks of disease such as smallpox and the plague. All this led to immense social pressures and an increase in poor people in need of help.
Urban citizenry had to make peace with an inrush of ‘Hagars’ in their midst. Civic leaders concerned with social stability would have found hostility or violence towards the immigrant poor troubling. The 17th c educated were well-familiar with Humanist and Christian virtue politics— that performing charitable acts and good works, particularly on behalf of those most disadvantaged, should be part of the public consciousness. In areas like the Dutch Republic, acceptance of refugees spawned tangible community benefits: immigrants from Flanders, the Jewish diaspora, and elsewhere contributed significantly to the Republic’s liberation and economic success throughout the 17th century.
There’s evidence that Hagarian narrative, particularly the wilderness rescue scene, struck a chord with those displaced by crisis and those promoting the protection of immigrants (arme vreemdelingnen, ‘poor foreigners’, as the Dutch called them). The accompanying themes of exile, hardship, mercy, and deliverance would have been painfully relevant and relatable in a world torn apart by disaster. In a remarkable c.1662 painting by the Dutch artist Karel Dujardin (see below), Hagar wears robes of the same red-white-blue as that of the Dutch Republican flag. Note the inferno of chaos around her and the traveler’s bundle at her feet, as well as the feeding of a starved Ishmael under the guidance of angels.
(Left) Hagar in the Desert, c. 1680, by Nicolas Colombel (1644-1717), source: Museum of Fine Arts Budapest
(Right) Hagar and Ishmael in the Wilderness, c. 1662, by Karel Dujardin (1622–1678), source: John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art
Hagar, Ismael and the Angel, c. mid 17th century, by Mattia Preti (1613-1699), source: Salamon Gallery
The dark reddish-orange palette of the Dujardin, as well as the general backdrop of crisis, is echoed in a painting from around the same period by Mattia Preti (shown above). Both compositions are striking for the juxtaposition of salvational ideals against a mood of anxiety. Who could have owned these paintings (and others like it), and in what context where they displayed? The Dujardin work may have been commissioned for one of Amsterdam’s charitable institutions; the artist had previously completed a commission for a women’s reformatory. Estate inventories record that Otto Badius, a powerful Calvinist minister in Amsterdam, had owned a painting of Hagar, which he hung in the entry hall and receptional area of his residence. It was the only painting of Biblical theme he owned. Amsterdam being a metropolis impacted by the refugee crisis, and Badius being one of its most influential leaders, this choice to display an image of Hagar in one of the most social areas of his home is suggestive of zeitgeist relevancy.
In 1640, a popular prayer book was revised under the auspices of Badius. In a chapter appealing readers to show charity to those in less fortunate circumstances, Hagar’s tale is invoked to advance themes of benevolence and compassion:
What I would like to emphasize is the remarkable manner in which God took care of and provided for Hagar and her child, who were in great crisis and difficulty, because both would otherwise have died from hunger and thirst; does not God give hope when all hope appears to be lost? […] Did not the angel of the Lord call out to her from heaven and give her nourishment and comfort? I also want to say how God, in an extraordinary and singular manner, has provided for his church in the wilderness, and furnished all necessary subsistence.Voetpat der Eenvoudiger Mensen (Footpath for Simple People, or the Royal Road to Heaven), 1640 edition, edited by Otto Badius
A direct linkage of Hagar to philanthropy is made in a c.1644 etching by Jean Valdor the Younger. The print pairs the wilderness rescue scene with a dedication to Madeleine Fabry, the wife of French chancellor Pierre Séguier, in recognition of her great charity on behalf of the poor and needy (see below).
The angel with Hagar and Ishmael in the desert, c. 1644, by Jean Valdor the Younger, dedicated to Madeleine Fabry in commemoration of her charitable giving. Source: Rikjsmuseum
No doubt mercy, compassion, and acceptance were particularly germane ideals in an era defined by calamity and diaspora. While the meaning and context of Hagarian imagery was complex and often contradictory, 17th century depictions of mother and son being rescued carried a kind of literal honesty: that no matter faith or origin, a mother fighting for the survival of her child is a theme evocative of great sympathy; that a just society should encourage the protection and safeguard of widows, orphans, and refugees.
To bring the discussion full circle, let us again examine the bodice jewel presented at the beginning, which is compositionally similar to the Valdor etching:
(Left) The Valdor etching (right) late 17th c enameled bodice jewel, Heart of Hearts Jewels
(Left) An edited composite image, showing how the jewel would have been worn during the 17th century. The portrait closeup comes from Portrait of Dina Lems, c. 1660, by Daniel Vertangen, source: Rijksmuseum
(Right) Examples of other Baroque-era bodice jewels of this form (credit and sources cited below each object)
Like the British Museum example, this Hagar-themed bodice jewel is of an oval form popular during the second half of the 17th century. These jewels were worn exclusively by women, and would have been pinned to the fronts of bodices (see above left). Other surviving examples of the type tend to feature devotional or sentimental themes. And so too Hagar can be viewed in the context of devotion and sentiment: her story and image, worn close to the heart, impart values that meant something to the wearer and her society.
Hagar as she was and is—complex, nuanced, ambiguous—does not bow to singular interpretation. Through time and space she has variously worn the robes of a villainess and victim, and courted both exclusion and inclusion, hatred and compassion. Yet her eventual evolution from Medieval polemic tool to Baroque messenger of empathy is a triumph of progressive values and thus worthy of celebration.
Hagar and Ishmael in the Wilderness, c. 1665, Francesco Cozza (1605 – 1682). Source: Rijksmuseum
Credits and further reading:
The book Fractured Families and Rebel Maidservants: The Biblical Hagar in Seventeenth-Century Dutch Art and Literature by Christine Petra Sellin was a great source of information and help in writing this article.
To learn more about the crisis of the 17th century, check out Global Crisis: War, Climate Change and Catastrophe in the Seventeenth Century by Geoffrey Parker