Permanent Galleries

The Expulsion of Hagar

Ciro Ferri
The Expulsion of Hagar, about 1685
Italian, 1628/34–1689
oil on canvas
53.15 x 40.16 inches (135 x 102 cm)
Museum purchase by exchange, Mr. Fred B. Snite and the Snite Foundation

This scene, taken from Genesis 21:9–21, depicts Abraham banishing his second wife, Hagar, and their son, Ishmael, from the family home. Sarah, his first wife, watches from a window above. Ciro Ferri set the figures in an idyllic, mountainous landscape instead of a dry desert, which was the original setting for the story. This change in scenery is typical of seventeenth-century Italian painting. The artist added decorative arrangements of foliage as framing devices to highlight the central figures and action. He also invigorated the image by the use of strong diagonal compositional elements that underscore the drama of the story.

Ferri was an important Italian painter, sculptor, architect, and draughtsman. He was the most gifted pupil of Pietro da Cortona, and his style in frescoes, easel paintings, and drawings remained a remarkably true interpretation of Cortona’s Roman Baroque. Ferri’s art helped spread the decorative style of the Roman Baroque to Florence and other cities.