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The Life of Isaac

The Sacrifice of Isaac

T.7a-1961

Isaac became the leader of his people. But when he was a child his father Abraham received a message from God telling him that he must offer his son as a sacrifice, rather than the more usual sheep or goat. The tapestry shows the moment just before Isaac’s killing: Abraham has his sword raised to strike his son when an angel appears and tells him to stop. The angel points to a ram trapped in a bush nearby and tells Abraham to kill it as an offering. Rather oddly, their two servants are shown watching in the background and the town from which they all came is seen beyond that.

The borders are just as interesting as the central scene. In the horizontal borders the weaver showed hunting scenes, including the pursuit of a fox that had stolen a goose. Each huntsman wears differently coloured clothes; sometimes there are silver threads in his breeches.

t.7a-1961

The side borders are alike in both pieces, designed in three sections; top and bottom are two different arrangements of fruit and flowers

t.7a-1961
t.7a-1961

separated by the small figure of an armed man within a semi-circular frame. Two birds perch above it.

T.7a-1961
T.7a-1961

The corners of the arch in the centre of the tapestry were decorated with different flowers, a carnation (left) and borage (right). A caterpillar crawls down the right-hand side.

t.7a-1961

There are at least twenty shades of coloured wool in this tapestry.

Read More: The Fitzwilliam ‘Sheldon’ tapestries, The sacrifice of Isaac