Nicolas Poussin 1593/94 – 1665

Moses Turning Aaron's Staff into a Serpent

tapestry (360 × 465 cm) — 1685 Museum Manufacture des Gobelins, Paris

Nicolas Poussin biography

This work is linked to Exodus 7:10

Tags: Moses

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God sent Moses and Aaron to Pharaoh to ask him to let the Jewish people go. Should Pharaoh ask for a divine sign, Aaron was told to throw his rod on the ground.

Pharaoh did ask for a sign, and Aaron threw the staff. It immediately became a snake. Some of Pharaoh's sorcerers also cast down their rods, which also turned into snakes. Aaron's staff swallowed them all.

Pharaoh however was not impressed, and still refused to let the Jews go. This made God punish Egypt with the seven plagues.

This tapestry is part of a series of ten showing episodes from the life of Moses, made between 1683 and 1687. Eight paintings by Poussin and two by Charles Le Brun (1619-1690) served as models. Six sets were made, at the Royal Tapestry Workshop (Manufacture royale des Gobelins) in Paris. Le Brun, who served as first painter to king Louis XIV, was the artistic manager of the workshop.

Poussin made the painting that served as model for this tapestry in 1647. The canvas's size is 92 x 128 cm; it now is in the collection of the Louvre museum.

Moses Turns Aaron's Staff into a Serpent. Oil on canvas.

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