Frederic, Lord Leighton

Cain and Abel

published 1881

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In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Frederic, Lord Leighton 1830–1896
Wood engraving on paper
Image: 178 × 159 mm
Presented by Gilbert Dalziel 1924

Display caption

This design illustrates the story of the first two sons of Adam and Eve, Cain a farmer and Abel a shepherd. The brothers sacrifice the products of their labour to God: Cain offers meat from his flock and Abel the results of his harvest. But God was more pleased with Abel’s offering, and Cain’s jealousy results in the brutal murder of his brother, shown here.

Leighton suffered from producing such detailed work; he wrote to the Dalziels, ‘I very much regret I find that the minute work – which I cannot satisfy myself – on these drawings has proved terribly trying to my eyes’.

Gallery label, July 2008

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