Jepthah’s Vow, by Antonio Zanchi (1631-1722).

Oil on canvas. 229cm by 274cm. Signed Ant. Zanchi [pit?].

The story of Jepthah is told in the Old Testament Book of Judges, chapters 10-12.

He swears an oath that: ‘whatever/whoever emerges and comes out of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the people of Ammon, shall surely be God’s and I shall sacrifice them as a burnt offering.’ 

The painting records the horrifying moment when the first person to greet him on his return is his beloved daughter and only child.

The painting was purchased by John, 5th Earl of Exeter (1648-1700), whilst on the Grand Tour. It is recorded in the 1688 Burghley Inventory: ‘The Plaster Dineing Roome & Clossett…..1 piece of Jeptha and his Daughter by Zanchi of Venice.’

Zanchi was born in Este in the Veneto. He was mainly active in Venice, but he was a prolific artist and his paintings can be seen in many northern Italian towns and cities.


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