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The Temptation, Cain killing Abel and the Sacrifice of Abraham: T.20-1945

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Object information


The Temptation, Cain killing Abel and the Sacrifice of Abraham


Unknown (Maker)


Discoloured white silk, beadwork embroidery. Adam and Eve and other pictorial motifs.


History note: Unknown before Louis Colville Grey Clarke (1881-1960) by whom given

Legal notes

Given by Louis Colville Gray Clarke

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Given (1945-07-24) by Clarke, Louis Colville Gray


Early-mid 17th century
Circa 1625 - 1675 1675


Label text from the exhibition ‘Feast and Fast: The Art of Food in Europe, 1500–1800’, on display at The Fitzwilliam Museum from 26 November 2019 until 31 August 2020: There are complex theological messages related to food from Genesis (the Bible’s first book) in this colourful beadwork panel. On the left, the presence of a unicorn and a mermaid suggests that this is paradise or the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve stand either side of the Tree of Knowledge, having disobeyed God and sinned against him by eating its forbidden fruit. The resulting punishment was expulsion from Eden, condemning humankind to toil for food evermore. On the right, two scenes focus on food sacrifices. Below, Cain (an arable farmer) has just murdered his younger brother Abel (a shepherd), in a fit of jealousy because God preferred Abel’s sacrifice of lambs to his grain offering. Above, Abraham, commanded to sacrifice his son, Isaac, to God as a test of his faith, is saved from having to do so by the divine provisioning of a ram, which he sacrifices instead. While glorifying God’s creation, this panel was also a reminder of ‘the dark side of food’ as a dangerous gateway to sinful acts, and possible damnation.

Materials used in production

white Silk

Techniques used in production

Embroidering Beadwork

References and bibliographic entries

Related exhibitions

Identification numbers

Accession number: T.20-1945
Primary reference Number: 221620
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Friday 21 July 2017 Updated: Tuesday 24 November 2020 Last processed: Thursday 18 November 2021

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

Citation for print

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2020) "Picture" Web page available at: Accessed: 2021-12-06 20:17:27

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{{cite web|url=|title=Picture|author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2021-12-06 20:17:27|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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<div class="text-center my-3"> <figure class="figure"> <img src="" alt="The Temptation, Cain killing Abel and the Sacrifice of Abraham" class="img-fluid" /> <figcaption class="figure-caption text-info">The Temptation, Cain killing Abel and the Sacrifice of Abraham</figcaption> </figure> </div>

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