ROSSELLI, Cosimo
(b. 1439, Firenze, d. 1507, Firenze)

Tables of the Law with the Golden Calf

1481-82
Fresco, 350 x 572 cm
Cappella Sistina, Vatican

The dissemination of the law is presented in the fourth compartments on the south and north walls, both painted by Rosselli. In the Moses cycle we see him receiving the tables of the Law on Mount Sinai. On the opposite wall is the Sermon on the Mount.

In the Moses picture we first see Moses in the middle distance on Mount Sinai, where God is handing him the tablets. The sleeping youth is Joshua, who had accompanied Moses on his climb. In the left half of the picture Moses and Joshua have returned and Moses is showing the tablets to the people. In the adjacent scene he smashes them to the ground, for he has discovered that in his absence the Israelites, spurred on by Aaron, have been worshipping an idol, the golden calf, depicted in the centre. The idolators are being put to death in the background on the right. In the corresponding spot on the left side of the picture there are people standing in front of their tents, a scene that has not been fully explained.




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