Moses defending the Daughters of Jethro

This painting probably dates from Saraceni's years in Rome and illustrates a subject from the Old Testament (Exodus 2: 15-22). The scene is set against a densely wooded landscape in the manner of Adam Elsheimer (see, for example, Elsheimer's 'Tobias and the Archangel Raphael').

Moses fled to the land of Midian after having murdered an Egyptian. As he sat by a well the seven daughters of Jethro (also known as Reuel or Hobab), the priest of Midian, came to water their father's sheep. When shepherds tried to drive the women away, Moses came to their defence and watered the sheep himself. Jethro subsequently gave Moses his daughter Zipporah in marriage.

Key facts

Artist dates
1579 - 1620
Full title
Moses defending the Daughters of Jethro
Date made
Medium and support
Oil on copper
28.5 x 35.3 cm
Acquisition credit
Bequeathed by Benedict Nicolson, 1978
Inventory number
Location in Gallery