In this serene marble the Neoclassical and Romantic movements are merged to create an evocative and powerful group. The elegant contraposto is ultimately indebted to antique prototypes, in particular the Apollo Sauroktonos
(musée du Louvre, Paris, inv. no. MA 441), who leans against a tree, placing his body into a similar S-shaped curve. However, the Old Testament subject and the Orientalising turban-headdress lend to the marble a Romantic air. Rebecca was the wife of Isaac and the mother of Jacob and Esau. She is first mentioned in Genesis 24:15 when Abraham had sent his servant to Nahor to find a wife for his son Isaac. The servant arrived at a well and prayed to God that the first girl to provide water for both him and his camels would be God's choice of bride. Rebecca appeared and drew water from the well for the servant and then watered the camels, a sign that God had chosen Rebecca. She and Isaac had two twin sons. The younger, Jacob, was later given the name Israel and would go on to make a covenant with God and father twelve sons whose issue would become the Tribes of Israel. His elder brother Esau led the Edomites and was later supplanted by Jacob. The present marble is beautifully carved. Note the superbly delineated bricks which form the well, together with the wonderful deep folds of drapery and the elegant idealised facial features. The inscription: H. de Wulf
. probably refers to an owner of the marble, which was almost certainly carved by a talented Italian sculptor circa 1860-1880.
A version of this marble, attributed to Stefano Menconi and dated 1875, is illustrated in A. Panzetta, Nuovo Dizionario degli Scultori Italiani dell'Ottocento e del Primo Novecento, Turin, 2003, vol. 2, no 1186, p. 624