Cain Killing Abel, Italian School

Italian School 

Cain Killing Abel, mid-17th century 

Oil on canvas 

Gift of the Miyabara and Oguri children in memory of their parents, Kashiro and Ichi Miyabara and Kanzo and Augusta Oguri, 1991 (6224.1) 

The biblical narrative of Cain and Abel, the first two children of Adam and Eve, is a well-known one: after God refuses Cain’s sacrifice and accepts Abel’s, Cain retaliates by murdering his brother. Cain Killing Abel, shows the story’s dramatic climax, as Cain raises the jaw of an animal with the intent to bludgeon Abel, who looks imploringly to his brother. Likely influenced by the style of Caravaggio, an Italian painter known for his groundbreaking use of chiaroscuro and drama, the artist of this painting heighten the tension of the fratricidal scene by theatrically illuminating Abel’s vulnerable body just moments before his death.