Hans Andersen Brendekilde (Danish, 1857–1942)
Abel’s Offer, 1908
Oil on canvas

Beginning in the 1890s, Brendekilde increasingly focused his attention on religious subjects. The painting depicts a moment from the Book of Genesis (4:3-5), when Abel, one of Adam and Eve’s sons, makes an offering to God. When God rejects the offer of Abel’s brother Cain, the latter murders his brother—an episode that Brendekilde dealt with earlier in his painting Kain Working in the Field After Having Killed His Brother Abel (1896, Frimurerlogen Cimbria, Aalborg). While most images related to this story offer some hint of Cain’s treacherous act, here Brendekilde focuses instead on the beauty of the landscape and the relationship of man and animal. Brendekilde situates himself in the legacy of the Golden Age of Danish painting (roughly the first half of the 19th century), when artists used landscape to create a new national identity.