Abraham Receives Rebecca
Jan van Tiegen
(active about 1550)
Wool warp (6 yarns per cm); wool and silk wefts
Based on the story of Abraham as told in the Book of Genesis, this tapestry shows Abraham (at right) extending his hand to welcome Rebecca, the young woman chosen to be his son Isaac’s wife. Isaac, wearing armor, stands behind his father. Look for the next part of this story behind Isaac, where the couple’s wedding feast is taking place in a grand palace. The figures are set in a verdant landscape surrounded by a border of fruits, flowers, and vegetables. An avid gardener herself, Isabella Gardner may have enjoyed the connections between these woven landscapes, the plants in the museum’s courtyard, and the parkland of the Emerald Necklace just outside. In her typical eclectic fashion, Gardner intermingled the two tapestry cycles and hung them in seemingly random order. You can tell the two cycles apart by looking at the top of each scene: the Abraham tapestries have a Latin inscription, while the Cyrus tapestries do not.