Marcantonio Franchesini, The Angel Appearing to Hagar and Ishmael, Post restoration

Photo courtesy of Dave Penman (All rights reserved)


Marcantonio Franchesini, The Angel Appearing to Hagar and Ishmael, Pre restoration

Photo courtesy of Dave Penman (All rights reserved)


Marcantonio Franchesini, The Angel Appearing to Hagar and Ishmael, Xray locations

Photo courtesy of Dave Penman (All rights reserved)


Country House
Doddington Hall
The Angel Appearing to Hagar and Ishmael
Long Gallery
Medium and support
Oil on canvas
Overall height: 184.4 cm, Overall width: 242.2 cm
Marcantonio Franchesini (1648-1729)
Catalogue Number


The painting, previously attributed to Guido Reni, has been reattributed by Jonny Yarker to the Bolognese artist Marcantonio Franceschini (1648–1729). It has been the subject of recent conservation and extensive technical investigation by Amiel Clarke and Christine Braybrook of the Hamilton Kerr Institute, Cambridge.1

The subject of the painting, which was popular in seventeenth-century Italian art, is taken from the Book of Genesis. The story tells how Hagar, the Egyptian slave, gives birth to Ishmael, the child of Abraham, whose own wife, Sarah, is barren. Some years later, having given birth to her own son, Isaac, Sarah compels Abraham to cast out Hagar and Ishmael into the wilderness. Having run out of food and drink, and facing death, Hagar prays to God to save her. Accordingly, as depicted in Franceschini’s painting, an angel appears and directs her to a water source, thus saving her life and that of her exhausted son.

As noted by Cole, by the late nineteenth century it was located on the ground floor, on the end wall at the north the Hall. The ornate frame, constructed in the early to mid-1760s, matches others at Doddington in the Long Gallery (see DN88, DN89 and DN93). As close inspection reveals, the frame, which previously held a portrait of Sir John Delaval and his sister Anne, Lady Stanhope (see DN52), has been at some point cut down to accommodate the present painting.

It is not known when the painting came to Doddington, or how it was acquired. A number of paintings of Hagar and Ishmael attributed to Guido Reni passed through the London art market in the eighteenth century, including, in 1747, works from the collection of Josiah Burchett (c.1666–1746), Secretary of the Admiralty, and James Brydges, 1st Duke of Chandos (1674–1744).2 On 5 February 1791 ‘a sublime picture’ of Hagar and Ishmael was purchased for 12 guineas at Christie’s by a buyer named Collins. It has been suggested that it may have been the painting now at Doddington, although this is speculative.3

by Martin Postle


  1. Amiel Clarke and Christine Braybrook, ‘Reattributing a painting through technical study: Hagar and Ishmael in the Wilderness by Marcantonio Franceschini’, Hamilton Kerr Institute. Bulletin number 7, 2018, Hamilton Kerr Institute, Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge, pp. 69–84.

  2. Burchett’s picture was sold 8 April 1747, lot 232, at Christopher Cock’s auction house. The Duke of Chandos’s picture was sold, also by Cock, on 6 May, 1747, lot 21.

  3. See Clarke and Braybrook, 2018, p. 70.


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