Nicolas Poussin 1593/94 – 1665

The Adoration of the Golden Calf

oil on canvas (154 × 214 cm) — ca. 1634 Museum The National Gallery, London

Nicolas Poussin biography

This work is linked to Exodus 32:4

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Moses has been gone a while when the children of Israel ask his brother Aaron for a god to lead them; they expect Moses will not be back. Aaron makes them give up their gold earrings, which they proceed to do, to Aaron's amazement. They then melt the jewelry to create the image of a Golden Calf, at which they can worship.

Poussin shows a somewhat hefty calf and people gaily dancing in front of it. The man in the middle is Aaron. In the background, Moses and Joshua are descending the mountain; Moses is holding the stone tablets with the Ten Commandments. Moses is about to smash them, in a rage over their idolatry.

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