41cm x 59cm Oil on canvas board.
Based on Michelangelo’s sculpture at St Peters Basilica. Phillip Carrero.
Pope Julius II commissioned Michelangelo to build his tomb in 1505 and it was finally completed in 1545; Julius II died in 1513
Moses is an imposing figure – he is nearly eight feet high sitting down! He has enormous muscular arms and an angry, intense look in his eyes. Under his arms he carries the tablets of the law – the stones inscribed with the Ten Commandments that he has just received from God on Mt. Sinai.
We can see the figure’s pent-up energy. The entire figure is charged with thought and energy. It is not entirely clear what moment of the story Michelangelo shows us, is he about to rise in anger after seeing the Israelites worshiping the golden calf? He has the tablets with the ten commandments on them under his right arm. Creating an interesting seated figure is not an easy thing to do!
You have probably noticed that Moses has horns. This comes from a miss-translation of a Hebrew word that described Moses as having rays of light coming from his head.