Artwork of the Week: July 26, 2020
Randolph Rogers (1825-1892), Isaac on the Altar, 1863-1864, marble, 41 1/2 x 22 1/2 x 18 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, gift of Stanford C. Stoddard, 2012.
Randolph Rogers, an American expatriate in Italy, created sculptures in an idealized, theatrical style. The BYU MOA is fortunate to possess an ethereal example of his work. Does Rogers’ Isaac on the Altar look directly into the face of his father as the sacrificial dagger is raised? He serenely defies the terror and confusion anyone would feel in such a scenario. Isaac’s hands are bound, but not his legs, suggesting that he could have fled. He chose to remain, realizing that HE is the offering provided by God. Neither he nor Abraham yet knew that this test could be completed without unspeakable tragedy, and both remained compliant to God’s command. The miracle of Abraham becoming “a father of many nations” was preserved by divine intervention, and in the end, it is perhaps the appearance of the angel that Rogers intended to capture in the complexity of Isaac’s upward, confident gaze.