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This morning we showed you a detail from a painting on our social media pages. Did you recognize the painting? It is Pieter Lastman’s The Lamentation of Abel, 1623 (The Rembrandt House Museum, Amsterdam).

The Bible book of Genesis tells the story of Cain killing his brother Abel. Cain and Abel were the two eldest sons of Adam and Eve. Cain was a farmer, Abel was a shepherd. They each made a sacrifice to God. But God only accepted Abel’s. Out of jealousy Cain killed his brother.

The scene that Lastman chose to depict does not occur in the Old Testament, but it is found in a later commentary on Genesis (an apocryphal story). We see Adam and Eve mourning the death of their son. On a rock stand two crying children, Adam and Eve’s other offspring. The smouldering fire on the altar refers to the cause of the tragedy: Cain’s sacrifice which was refused.

Lastman was a famous history painter – a painter of stories from classical mythology and the Bible. He made this painting in 1623. Shortly after, Rembrandt was apprenticed to him.

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