David Meeting Abigail

Object Details


David Meeting Abigail


Workshop of Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish, 1577 - 1640)




1620 to 1629


Oil on canvas


123.2 × 228 cm (48 1/2 × 89 3/4 in.)

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With its horizontal format, this biblical scene of classically proportioned figures arranged in graceful poses resembles an ancient Roman frieze. Facial expressions and dramatic gestures serve a narrative purpose, revealing the story for the viewer. Rubens used vivid reds, blues, and yellows to describe shimmering silks and heavy cloaks. On the right, helmets and armor worn by the soldiers gleam in the bright sunlight.

The painting depicts the meeting of Abigail and David. Abigail's husband, Nabal of Carmel, foolishly refused to pay for the protection that David had provided for Nabal's shepherds. Angered, David set off to avenge this misdeed with a large group of soldiers. Seeking forgiveness for her husband's offense, Abigail, shown kneeling in the foreground on the left, offers bread, wine, corn, raisins, and fig-cakes to David and his men. Impressed by Abigail's beauty and generosity, David dismounts and attempts to raise Abigail up. Although not shown here, the story ends with Nabal's dying from a stroke after learning of the disaster his wife had averted. David then proposed marriage to Abigail.

- 1805

Welbore Ellis Agar, died 1805 (London, England), by inheritance to his illegitimate sons, Emmanuel Felix Agar and Welbore Felix Agar, 1805.

1805 - 1806

Emmanuel Felix Agar (England)

1805 - 1806

and Welbore Felix Agar (England) [unsold, Agar sale, Christie's, London, May 2, 1806, lot 36.], purchased by Robert Grosvenor prior to auction, 1806.

1806 - 1845

Robert Grosvenor, first marquess of Westminster, 1767 - 1845 (Eaton Hall, Cheshire, England), by inheritance to Richard Grosvenor.

1845 - 1869

Richard Grosvenor, second marquess of Westminster, 1795 - 1869 (Eaton Hall, Cheshire, England), by inheritance to Hugh Lupus Grosvenor, 1869.

1869 - 1899

Hugh Lupus Grosvenor, first duke of Westminster, 1825 - 1899 (Eaton Hall, Cheshire, England), by inheritance to his second son, Hugh Richard Arthur Grosvenor, 1899.

1899 - 1953

Hugh Richard Arthur Grosvenor, second duke of Westminster, 1879 - 1953 [unsold, Westminster sale, Christie's, London, May 1, 1925, lot 133.], by inheritance to his cousin, William Grosvenor, 1953.

1953 - 1959

William Grosvenor, third duke of Westminster, 1894 - 1963 (Eaton Hall, Cheshire, England) [sold, Westminster sale, Sotheby's, London, June 24, 1959, lot 13, to S. Pollak.]

1959 -

S. Pollak

possibly 1959 -

Edward Speelman, Ltd. (London, England), sold to Gunter Henle.

by 1964 -

Dr. Gunter Henle (Duisberg, Germany)


Hallsborough Gallery

- 1973

Edward Speelman, Ltd. (London, England), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1973.

Die Sammlung Henle (February 22 to April 5, 1964)
  • Wallraf-Richartz-Museum - Fondation Corboud (Cologne), February 22 to April 5, 1964

Smith, John. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch, Flemish, and French Painters [...]. 9 vols. (London: Smith and Son, 1829-1842), vol. 2 (1830), p. 170, mentioned under no. 592.

Rooses, Max. L'Oeuvre de P.P. Rubens, vol. 1. (Antwerp: 1886), mentioned under no. 102.

Catalogue of the Collection of Pictures at Grosvenor House. (London: 1888), p. 43, no. 105.

Redford, George. Art Sales: A History of Sales of Pictures and Other Works of Art: With Notices of the Collections Sold, Names of Owners, Titles of Pictures, Prices and Purchasers. 2 vols. (London: Bradbury, Agnew, & Co., 1888), vol. 1, p. 95 (measures do not correspond).

Catalogue of the Collection of Pictures at Grosvenor House. (London: 1913), listed in corridor no. 105.

Jaffé, Michael. "Rediscovered Oil Sketches by Rubens: I." Burlington Magazine, 111 (July 1969), p. 435.

Jaffé, Michael. "Rubens' David and Abigail." Burlington Magazine, 114 (December 1972), pp. 863-864.

Fredericksen, Burton B., ed. The J. Paul Getty Museum: Greek and Roman Antiquities, Western European Paintings, French Decorative Arts of the Eighteenth Century (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1975), p. 110, ill.

Fredericksen, Burton B., et al. Guidebook: The J. Paul Getty Museum. 3rd ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1976), p. 67.

Fredericksen, Burton B., Jiří Frel, and Gillian Wilson. Guidebook: The J. Paul Getty Museum. 4th ed., Sandra Morgan, ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1978), p. 84.

Held, Julius. The Oil Sketches of Peter Paul Rubens--A Critical Catalogue, 2 vols. (Princeton: 1980), pp. 435-36, mentioned in entry for no. 315.

Held, Julius. The Collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts: Flemish and German Paintings of the 17th Century. (Detroit: 1982), pp. 88-89.

Held, Julius. "The Case against the Cardiff 'Rubens' cartoons." Burlington Magazine 125 (March 1983), p. 135, fig. 5.

Currence, Nan. "Rombouts 'David and Abigail' in the Florida State University Gallery: An Allegory of Deliverance." Athanor, 8. (1989), pp. 16, 17 n. 2, ill.

Jaffé, Michael. Rubens: catalogo completo, trans. Germano Mulazzani(Milan: 1989), p. 316, no. 981.

D'Hulst, R.-A., and M. Vandenven. Rubens: The Old Testament. Corpus Rubenianum Ludwig Burchardt, III. (London: 1989), cat. 41, pp. 132-34, 135, 137, gis. 90, 94.

Jaffé, David. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 112, ill.

Wheelock, Arthur K., Jr. Flemish Paintings of the Seventeenth Century: the collections of the National Gallery of Art systematic catalogue (Washington: National Gallery of Art, 2005), pp. 208-9, ill.