Jan Havicksz. Steen ca. 1626 – 1679

Moses and Pharaoh's Crown

oil on canvas (78 × 79 cm) — c. 1670 Museum Mauritshuis, The Hague

Jan Havicksz. Steen biography

This work is linked to Exodus 4:10

Tags: Moses

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Moses was raised at Pharaoh's court by Pharaoh's daughter. A traditional Jewish story tells of Pharaoh putting his crown on little Moses' head. The child throws it on the ground and trampled on it. It was seen as a sign that one day Moses would overthrow Pharaoh. In order to find out whether Moses indeed was dangerous, he had to be tested. That is probably what a man whispers in Pharaoh's ear, in this painting.

According to Steen's depiction Moses had to choose between gold coins and glowing pieces of coal. The kid chose the coal and put a piece in his mouth, severely burning himself.

To Pharaoh this proved Moses' innocence.

Steen made a vivid scene out of the story, with a crying child and in the background gesturing figures.

The story is not in the Bible. It would explain the speech impediment Moses mentions in Exodus 4.

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