Sebastien Bourdon

Moses and the Burning Bush

Moses and the Burning Bush
(click image to zoom-in)
Author: Sebastien Bourdon
History Painting, Painting, Oil on canvas, 136x106.5 cm
Origin: France, 1642-1645

S├ębastien Bourdon's work bears evident traces of his religious belief and the constant inner opposition of his Protestantism, which he was obliged to conceal, to the Catholic surroundings. This was reflected in his choice of subjects from Scripture.

The shepherd Moses, who tended his flock on Mount Horeb, saw an angel in the burning bush. When he drew closer to have a better look and understand how the bush was aflame but not consumed, God called to him from the very centre of the flames and revealed His name to Moses, making him His chosen one. The Lord instructed Moses to go to the Pharaoh and lead the oppressed sons of Israel out of Egypt. Moses covered his face with his hands, since he was afraid to look upon God.

In the painting we can detect an indirect influence of the works of Raphael, which comes from Bourdon's attraction at this time to Poussin whose work continued the traditions of the great master from Urbino. Bourdon used the composition of Raphael's fresco Moses before the Burning Bush, which is on the ceiling of the Stanza di Heliodorus in the Vatican. Mose's pose is taken from Raphael's engraving of the Burning Bush. The thin texture of the painting and smooth outline of the figures allow us to date the canvas to 1642-1645.

Personage: Moses
Source of entry: via the state Museum Fund from the collection of I. P. Balashov, Petrograd, 1919
Theme: The Bible and Christianity

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