Rebecca at the Well
(Ercole Graziani (the Younger))


The didactic clarity of this composition turns for its inspiration to Annibale’s late style (such as Domine, Quo Vadis in the National Gallery, London) and to the neo-Raphaelesque figure types and dress style of Domenichino and Guido Reni. Also characteristic of Graziani’s interest in earlier Bolognese classicism is the treatment of drapery and the importance attached to carefully observed and expressive gesture. Rebecca’s turban-like headdress is particularly close to Graziani’s own Hagar and the Angel, Private Collection, England [1] and her dress and pose are virtually identical to Judith’s in Judith and Holofernes (Bologna, Istituto di S. Marta) apart from the position of the right arm. Her facial features conform to a female type which Graziani used in a number of pictures, such as Judith presented to Holofernes (Bologna, Opera Pia dei Vergognosi; see Fig. 1) and Susanna and the Elders (Bologna, Pinacoteca Nazionale). The former Bologna picture has been dated to 1745-50, which would suggest a similar or slightly later dating for our painting, since its classicism is even more advanced and refined. The figure of Eliezer closely resembles the pose and typology of the central figure in The Blessed Canetoli refusing the archbishopric of Florence (Bologna, S. Salvatore, see Fig. 2) which is dated c. 1749.[2]

A delicate palette of grey, pale violet, green and white, combined with Rebecca’s gestures, accentuates her traditionally virginal role in the drama, while Eliezer’s yellow ochre and scarlet and his more dramatic pose are used to telling effect. Graziani favoured an oval format in other works and uses it here with skill. This is particularly evident in Eliezer’s pose, whose right outline in relation to the painting’s shape accentuates his movement towards the static


[1] Cf. Revue de l’Art, no. 13, 1971.

[2] Cf. M. Oretti, Notizie dei Professori del Disegno ….., Mss. B 131, c. 246.

37 ¾ x 28 ¾ in. 96 x 73 cm.
Oil on canvas (oval)

Matthiesen Gallery, London, ‘The Settecento’, 1999

Where is It?
Matthiesen Gallery
Historical Period
Rococo - 1720-1780
Religious: Old Testament
Italian - Bolognese
1999-Collectanea 1700-1800.
Hard back catalogue of the Exhibition held in London and New York, 220 pages fully illustrated with 46 colour plates. £30 or $40 inc. p.& p.

(Click on image above)
Price band
$50,000 - $100,000