REMBRANDT Harmenszoon van Rijn
(b. 1606, Leiden, d. 1669, Amsterdam)
Moses Smashing the Tablets of the Law1659
Oil on canvas, 169 x 137 cm
Staatliche Museen, Berlin
Catalogue number: Bredius 527.
This canvas is uncharacteristically large in scale. It was probably painted for Amsterdam's massive, magnificent city hall - part palace of justice, prison, and bank. This image testifies to the identification of the Dutch Republic with the Children of Israel. The Dutch state often saw its national destiny in terms of the Old Testament, so Moses's image enjoyed special popularity, with Exodus seen as both prophecy and celebration of the founding and perpetuation of the Dutch Republic.