The Norton Simon Foundation

“Rebekah at the Well,” by the French artist jean-Baptiste Camille Corot (1796–1875). Unaware of the encounter that will soon occur, Rebekah sits quietly at the edge of the well.

Charged by Abraham to find a wife for his son Isaac, Abraham’s bondsman, Eliezer, approaches the well entreating God to “grant me good fortune this day … let the maiden to whom I say, ‘Please, lower your jar that I may drink,’ and who replies, ‘Drink, and I will also water your camels’—let her be the one whom You have decreed for Your servant Isaac.”

Rebekah—mindful of the rules of hospitality—bids Eliezer drink and draws water for his camels, thus ensuring that she will become the bride of the future patriarch Isaac.

Though not a major interpreter of religious subjects, Corot was considered a major landscape and figure painter. His work forms an artistic bridge between the tradition of formal classical composition of the early 1800s and the Romantic Movement of the 19th century with its emphasis on emotion and nature.