Jacob with the Flock of Laban

Image credit: The National Gallery, London

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Jacob sits next to a stream, holding his shepherd’s staff, surrounded by his flock. Resting beneath a tree, he looks up towards heaven as if seeking guidance or strength: according to the Old Testament story, Jacob agreed to tend Laban’s flock for seven years so that he could marry his daughter Rachel. Instead of paying wages, Laban promised Jacob he could keep any speckled lambs that were born. Jacob peeled the bark off wooden branches and placed them in the stream (two are floating lower left). Any sheep that drank from this water would conceive speckled lambs, which Jacob was later able to claim as his own. A copy after this painting in the Museo Cerralbo, Madrid, reveals that the National Gallery painting was substantially cut down on the left-hand side: the canvas was originally more rectangular in format and included a speckled sheep in the left foreground.

The National Gallery, London



Jacob with the Flock of Laban


probably 1638


Oil on canvas


H 132 x W 118 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Lord Colborne Bequest, 1854

Work type



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Normally on display at

The National Gallery, London

Trafalgar Square, London, Greater London WC2N 5DN England

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