BOTTICELLI, Sandro
(b. 1444, Firenze, d. 1510, Firenze)

The Punishment of Korah and the Stoning of Moses and Aaron (detail)

1481-82
Fresco
Cappella Sistina, Vatican

On the right-hand side of the fresco, the revolt of the Jews against Moses is related, the latter portrayed as an old man with a long white beard, clothed in a yellow robe and an olive-green cloak. Irritated by the various trials through which their emigration from Egypt was putting them, the Jews demanded that Moses be dismissed. They wanted a new leader, one who would take them back to Egypt, and they threatened to stone Moses; however, Joshua placed himself protectively between them and their would-be victim, as depicted in Botticelli's painting.

The classical ruins in the background, while still largely visible in Botticelli's day, are completely destroyed nowadays. They constitute the remains of a backdrop for waterworks which had been constructed by Emperor Septimius Severus within the bath complex on the Palatine Hill.