Moses Striking the Rock – Art Appreciation

The National Gallery of Art Museum Virtual Tour

Title: David with the Head of Goliath

Artist: Andrea del Castagno

Date: 1450-1455

Medium: Tempera on leather on wood

Scale: 45 ½ x 30 1/8 in; 115.6 x 76.5 cm

Moses Striking the Rock - The National Gallery of Art Museum Virtual Tour
Moses Striking the Rock – The National Gallery of Art Museum Virtual Tour

Moses Striking the Rock is an art piece created during Baroque period. This artwork demonstrates Joachim Wtewael lifetime pledge to mannerism. As a mannerist, Joachim utilized alternating dark and light, pastel colors, contorted poses, and elongated figures creating extremely artificial, but elegant scenes. The painting is highly detailed depicting people and their belongings which include animals of different kinds, and their cookeries. They all surrounds the water trying to take as much as possible, where Moses is seen raising his stick to strike on the rock, with an assistance. Joachim was a Dutch painter who started demonstrating his skills at the age of 18. He became Saddlemakers’ guild member at the age of 25, where other painters were enrolled. He created paintings, stained glass windows, engravings and drawings. He was the last European artist painting using traditions of Mannerist. Although other artists adopted styles that were more naturalistic during his period, Joachim continued practicing an artificial style characterized by willfully distorted poses and acidic colors (Getty, n.d.).

Moses Striking the Rock is a piece of work is founded on the biblical event in the book of Exodus depicting a miraculous event in the wilderness when Moses was taking Israelites out of Egypt. After covering a long distance in the wilderness they all needed water but there was no clean water to drink. Israelites cried to Moses who cried to God and he was instructed to hit a rock with his rod and it produced water. The painting depict the moment after the stone started producing water. The struggles of Moses to lead Israelites from Egypt to Canaan contained special connotation to the Dutch that drew parallels between their own independence quest from Spanish rule and the Moses biblical story. The Dutch Revolt initial hero and leader, ‘the silent’ of Orange, Prince William turned to be identified, symbolically as Moses and similar to Moses he was killed before reaching the Promised Land. Joachim was House of Orange great supporter in its journey to lead all 17provinces of Netherland to independence, and hence paining this art may demonstrate his effort to revitalize the symbolic links between the House of Orange and Moses Dutch leaders (National Gallery of Art, 2017c).


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