Nicolas Tournier was one of the leading French followers of Caravaggio, whose paintings he would have studied in person during his stay in Rome between approximately 1615 and 1626. The present work was probably painted early on his stay in Rome, as suggested by Dottor Gianni Papi, who endorses the attribution to Tournier. Papi draws direct parallels between the present work and the Hypocrite
, another early work by Tournier in the Uffizi, Florence.1
of the two designs is analogous: the figure to the right is bathed in light and faces the other figure to the left, whose body and face are mostly in shadow; the figure to the left extends his arm towards the other protagonist. Jacob's yellow clothing finds close parallels with the gambler to the far right in Tournier's Denial of Peter
, in Atlanta.2
X-ray imaging (fig. 1) reveals various pentimenti: Jacob's left index finger was once straight; his hair was more coiffed, and may have been under some sort of headgear; the placement of Esau's extended arm was changed, while the sling around his chest was added later by the artist.
1 Nicolas Tournier, Un peintre caravaggesque, 1590–1639, exh. cat., Toulouse 2001, pp. 86–87, cat. no. 4, reproduced in colour.
2 Toulouse 2001, pp. 104–06, cat. no. 12, reproduced in colour.