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Estate of William F. Adams | all galleries >> Treasures of the Russian Czars -- Moscow to St. Petersburg > Abraham Isaac Rembrandt Hermitage.jpg
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Abraham  Isaac Rembrandt Hermitage.jpg

Abraham Isaac Rembrandt Hermitage.jpg

St. Petersburg, Russia

The angel exclaimed, "Drop that knife, Abraham." Of course, I am paraphrasing.

In the Hermitage Museum, the Sacrifice of Abraham is one of the many Rembrandt masterpieces that Stalin did not sell. This work depicts the biblical angel's last-minute reprieve delivered to Abraham before he completed the order from God to sacrifice his son, Isaac. But, I am still worried about that dropped knife.

The perennial failures of Stalin's 5-year economic plans led to a similarly perennial shortage of hard currency in the Soviet Union. Between 1924 and 1935 this currency shortage led in turn to quiet, but frequent foreign sales of genuine masterpieces by such luminaries Rembrandt, Van Eyck, Raphael, and Titian. Many of these were acquired by Andrew Mellon and donated to the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., forming the core of the American national collection.

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