The Israelites Dancing around the Golden Calf

Object Details


The Israelites Dancing around the Golden Calf


Sébastien Bourdon (French, 1616 - 1671)




France (Place Created)


about 1645


Pen and brown ink, brown and white oil paint

Object Number:



47.6 × 64.9 cm (18 3/4 × 25 9/16 in.)

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And as soon as he came near the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, Moses' anger burned hot, and he threw the tables out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain. . . .(Exodus 32:19)

After forty days and forty nights on Mount Sinai, Moses returns carrying the Ten Commandments, only to find the Israelites worshipping a golden calf instead of the true god. Strong theatrical gestures express the various emotions and activities of the Israelites.

Sébastien Bourdon used browns with white accents to evoke a full range of light, shadow, and form. Oil paint and pen and ink cover nearly the entire surface of the paper, making this highly finished drawing resemble a monochrome painting. Bourdon repeatedly depicted the dramatic events from Moses' life.


Art Market (Boston)

Classicism and Neoclassicism in French Drawing, 1600-1860 (October 25, 1994 to January 8, 1995)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), October 25, 1994 to January 8, 1995
Visions of Grandeur: Drawing in the Baroque Age (June 1 to September 12, 2004)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), June 1 to September 12, 2004