" Jacob the Patriarch in Art
Jacob the Patriarch
The Iconography

Jacob appears mostly in series of narrative images from the Old Testament example, especially the story of his son Joseph. There is no particular iconography or attribute associated with him, except that in the Joseph story he is old and in his own stories he is young. (On this site, see Joseph's page and the Old Testament mosaics in Santa Maria Maggiore).

The three events in Jacob's own story that are most often pictured are the ruse by which he gains his father's blessing (shown above, see Genesis 27:1-40), his dream of the ladder to Heaven (as in this example, see Genesis 28:10-15), and his wrestling with an angel (as in this example, see Genesis 32:22-32).

Prepared in 2014 by Richard Stracke, Emeritus Professor of English, Augusta University

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NAMES

  • Jacob receives the name Israel after wrestling with the angel (Genesis 32:29).