Private Collection (Spain)
about 1900 -
Private Collection (Düsseldorf, Germany)
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Currently on view at: Getty Center, Museum East Pavilion, Gallery E202
Moses Striking Water from the Rock
Jacob Jordaens (Flemish, 1593 - 1678)
Oil on canvas
129.5 × 269.2 cm (51 × 106 in.)
A crowd of Israelites gathers to observe a dramatic Old Testament miracle. After they wandered in the wilderness of the Sinai Desert without water, God saved them by instructing Moses to strike a rock with his staff, whereupon fresh water gushed out.
Jacob Jordaens conveyed the scene's drama through energetic motion and repetition. Using a characteristically Baroque sweeping horizontal composition, he effortlessly interwove human figures and animals into a frieze that follows from left to right, from anticipation--with jars and drinking vessels at the ready--to Moses' theatrical gesture. The figures' proportions and subtle foreshortening indicate that Jordaens intended the picture to be viewed from below.
Here Jordaens repeated a subject he had first attempted nearly three decades earlier, following his usual practice of reworking ideas and finding new solutions. As here, the devoted Calvinist Jordaens often made instructive, rather than devotional, religious pictures.
Jaffe, Michael. Review of Jordaens Drawings and Jacob Joardaens, by R.A. d'Hulst. Burlington Magazine 126, no. 981 (December 1984), p. 787, fig. 59.