Hagar and Ishmael

Image credit: Coram in the care of the Foundling Museum

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This picture illustrates the Old Testament story (taken from Genesis Chapter 21, Verse 17) in which Abraham fathers a child by Hagar, his barren wife Sarah’s servant. When Sarah miraculously becomes pregnant with Isaac, she becomes jealous of Hagar and orders Abraham to banish Hagar and her son Ishmael. This scene depicts Hagar and Ishmael in the desert of Beersheba. God has answered Hagar's prayers by sending an angel to show her where to find water for her dying son. As in the case of the three other Biblical scenes displayed in the Court Room, the subject is an allegorical reference to the Foundling Hospital helping desperate mothers and children. Joseph Highmore was born in London and studied for 10 years at Godfrey Kneller’s Academy.

Foundling Museum



Hagar and Ishmael




oil on canvas


H 172.7 x W 208.3 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

presented by the artist, 1746

Work type


Inscription description

Indistinctly inscribed "Genesis XXI Chap. 17th Verse Fear not: For God hath heard the Voice of the Lad, where he is."


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Normally on display at

Foundling Museum

40 Brunswick Square, London, Greater London WC1N 1AZ England

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