(b. 1450, Citta della Pieve, d. 1523, Perugia)

Moses's Journey into Egypt and the Circumcision of His Son Eliezer

c. 1482
Fresco, 350 x 572 cm
Cappella Sistina, Vatican

The fresco is from the cycle of the life of Moses in the Sistine Chapel. It is located in the first compartment on the south wall. It was painted by Perugino and Pinturicchio, the latter being probably responsible for the landscape and minor scenes.

This fresco depicts the story of Moses' journey to Egypt after exile in the land of Midian, when the angel tells him to circumcise his second son.

The paintings were to be read in pairs, one from the left and one from the right. Thus the Baptism of Christ faces the Circumcision of Moses' son by Perugino and Pinturicchio.

A comparison of the pairs of scenes shows clearly that the principal concern was to show how the new religion of Christ was deeper and more spiritual than the Jewish religion. Thus the pair of frescoes showing the Baptism and the Circumcision emphasize how baptism - prefigured, according to Augustine and many of the Fathers of Church, by circumcision - represents a "spiritual circumcision."

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