Nicolas Poussin

Moses Striking the Rock

Moses Striking the Rock
(click image to zoom-in)
Author: Nicolas Poussin
Painting, Oil on canvas, 122.5x191 cm
Origin: France, 1649

The artist painted this work for his friend Jacques Stell in 1649. He took the subject from the Latin translation of Josephus Flavius's The Antiquities of the Jews in which the episode is presented in more detail than in the Bible: ?Moses struck the rock with his rod and that very moment it split apart and from it poured the purest water in great abundance.?

Poussin did not limit himself to a depiction of the accomplished miracle; seeking at the same time to present the tragedy experienced by the fugitives in the desert. He has divided the composition into three parts, bringing out the most significant moments for the narrative. Shown on the right are people dying of thirst in torment and despair. Here we find women, children and the elderly, those for whom the misfortunes that have afflicted them are most difficult to bear. In the centre are the men and warriors. Taking heart they rush towards the spring, gathering water in cups, jugs and even helmets. Here the tension reaches its culmination. Finally, in the left-hand part of the picture we see Moses and the Israelite elders, giving praise to God for the miraculous delivery from death that they have been granted.

The painting, which was numbered among Poussin's finest works, was already rated most highly by the artist's contemporaries. The abundance of copies and engravings of the work is testimony to its great popularity.

Personage: Moses
Style: Classicism
Source of entry: Collection of Sir Robert Walpole, Houghton Hall, 1779
Theme: The Bible and Christianity
Exibition: French Art: 15th - 18th centuries

See also

Nicolas Poussin - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Nicolas Poussin (15 June 1594 – 19 November 1665) was a French painter in the classical style. His work predominantly features clarity, ...
Nicolas Poussin - Olga's Gallery
Comprehensive collection of more than 100 images of Poussin's works with artist's biography and historical comments.
Nicolas Poussin (1594–1665) | Thematic Essay | Heilbrunn Timeline ...
"Nicolas Poussin (1594–1665)". In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. ... Nicolas Poussin. MMA Bulletin 50. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1993. ...
Nicolas Poussin
Nicolas Poussin was the greatest French artist of the seventeenth century, the founder of .... Nicolas Poussin: Dialectics of Painting, by Oskar Batschmann ...

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