The Israelites Dancing around the Golden Calf
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Sébastien Bourdon
French, about 1645
Pen and brown ink and brown and white oil paint
18 3/4 x 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.