This work and 'The Brazen Serpent' are highly finished modellos for frescoes in the church of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, Rome. The modelli were probably made specifically for presentation to the Pope for approval, given that Benedict XIV was providing cash for the project.
Until recently a painting in the Musée Magnin at Dijon was thought to be a preliminary modello by Giaquinto for 'Moses striking the Rock'. Although Giaquinto frequently made several versions, even of his sketches, it seems most likely that the Dijon painting is an old copy of this picture.
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These two paintings were made as modelli (preparatory works) for frescoes in the apse of a church in Rome.