BOURDON, Sébastien
(b. 1616, Montpellier, d. 1671, Paris)

The Finding of Moses

Oil on canvas, 120 x 173 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington

In representing this Biblical tale of compassion for the helpless, the artist, concerned with providing a historically accurate setting, has included palm trees and ancient temples in the background landscape. Trained primarily in Rome, Bourdon spent most of his successful career in Paris and Stockholm, where he was court painter to the Queen of Sweden. An eclectic, he worked in a variety of contemporary styles and here the artist has adapted and elaborated a composition by Poussin, who represented the subject at least three times. The translucent colour is, however, unique to Bourdon and presages the lighter hues of the early 18th century.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 5 minutes):
Gioacchino Rossini: Moses, Moses' Prayer