Moses with the Tables of the Law

Guido Reni, Moses with the Tables of the Law, circa 1624. Oil on canvas, Galleria Borghese, Rome.

This dramatic portrait of Moses is by the Italian Renaissance artist Guido Reni (1565–1642), who was noted for the classical idealism of his renderings of mythological and religious subjects. In his religious and mythological paintings, Reni evolved a style that tempered baroque exuberance and complexity with classical restraint.

This image depicts Moses with the tablets containing the Ten Commandments, which he has just received from God on Mount Sinai. According to the Hebrew Bible, God speaks in his own voice from amidst clouds and smoke, delivering a system of the law for the Israelites. Reni’s tumultuous painting depicts the intensity of the divine revelation on Sinai.

Guido Reni, Moses with the Tables of the Law. Oil on canvas, circa 1624. Galleria Borghese, Rome.

Characteristic of a deity (a god or goddess).

A West Semitic language, in which most of the Hebrew Bible is written except for parts of Daniel and Ezra. Hebrew is regarded as the spoken language of ancient Israel but is largely replaced by Aramaic in the Persian period.

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