Moses Striking the Rock, Tintoretto;  and workshop
Moses Striking the Rock
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Tintoretto and workshop

Moses Striking the Rock, ca. 1555 – 1570

118 x 182 cm
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Acquired in 1914 with funds provided by Carl Schaub-Stiftung
On display, 2nd upper level, Old Masters, room 15


About the Work

Together with Titian and Veronese, Tintoretto helped to shape Venetian painting of the sixteenth century. What they all had in common was their use of colour as the means of determining the effect created by a picture. They contrasted the "disegno" preferred by Giorgio Vasari - the refined drawing which allowed compositions to be formed using lines and outlines - with the ideal of "colore" in all its materiality. Tintoretto chose a visible, light and yet pastose application of paint that was highly nuanced. His descriptive nickname, "little dyer", may have referred not only to his father's profession, but also to a story from the Old Testament (Numbers 20:11) in which Moses, dressed in dark red, makes water gush out of a rock. In their longing for water, the figures in the foreground, depicted realistically and in depth by the artist, represent the people of Israel, exhausted by their wandering through the wilderness and railing against their fate. The dating of the picture is uncertain. As regards composition, it resembles the considerably broader 'Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes' (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York), a context which strengthens the interpretation of the scene as a typological prefiguration of Christ as the living source.


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