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The Dramatic Image: Baroque Prints of the 17th Century


Wallerant Vaillant
Flemish, 1623–1677
After Gerard de Lairesse
Dutch, about 1640–1711

Jaël and Sisera

Mezzotint ,
William J. Hitchcock Fund in memory of Grace. J. Hitchcock, 1985.36

In this reddish-brown mezzotint, the figure of Jaël, mentioned in the biblical Book of Judges, strides forward with her head tilted up, perhaps calling upon God as witness, while her hand points at the body of Sisera on the floor behind her. In her right hand, Jaël holds the hammer that she has just used to drive a tent stake into the head of the fallen Canaanite general. Sisera represented an oppressive government that had dominated the Israelis, while Jaël was a member of a Hebrew nomadic group, reputedly related to Moses, which traversed the Levant (modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel and Palestine).

Wallerant Vaillant was a Dutch painter whose greatest contribution might be the refinement of the mezzotint printing technique.