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Two Scenes from the Story of Moses


Moses brings forth Water out of the Rock and The Worship of the Egyptian Bull God, Apis depict episodes from the life of Moses. They are based on the Book of Exodus, which describes how Moses rescued the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and accompanied them into the promised land of Canaan. The first picture shows water gushing from a rock that Moses has struck with his wooden staff; the second shows the Israelites worshipping the golden calf – possibly depicted in the guise of the Egyptian god Apis – in Moses' absence.

The two works were painted by a follower of Filippino Lippi, and their equal dimensions suggest that they belong together. Such horizontal paintings were known as spalliere, and were likely to have been inserted into furniture or wainscoting. They often have a moral message, as The Worship of the Egyptian Bull God, Apis does: on his return from Mount Sinai, Moses famously admonished the Israelites for worshipping a false idol.