Moses was a character who inspired many works by Nicolás Poussin. He up to almost 20 times he told some of the episodes that are narrated in theBible. And among them, the moment in which he was rescued from the waters of the Nile as a baby stands out.
The truth is that the choice of religious themes by Poussin is very curious, since he did not like to paint visions of saints or scenes of martyrdom, something that It was very much to the taste of his time, so from time to time he had to compromise with works such as the Martyrdom of Saint Erasmus. Instead, he preferred to paint facts that he considered key to the development of Christianity. Some facts that besides that he could place them in Eastern historical scenarios, which in turn allowed him to draw certain parallels with other religions and especially mythologies.
Moses saved from the waters of Poussin
For example, here he wrote: “He is Moses, the Moses of the Hebrews, the Pan of Arcadia, the Priapus of the Helospont, the Anubis of the Egyptians.”
Although beyond his thematic interests, without a doubt what is truly mentionable is the pictorial quality of the work. As always in Poussin, bursting with color and with an apparently complex and convoluted composition, but extraordinarily resolute on his part.
We see a group of women looking at the child. And all of them have a meaning.With their gestures they play a role in this very theatrical plot. She evidently is the daughter of the pharaoh who, taking pity on the creature, saved her, despite the fact that her father had ordered the killing of all the children of the Jews. And surrounding the princesses are all her servants who rejoice at the salvation. In addition, there is a woman dressed in white and with the humblest clothes who has been identified as the sister of Moses who attended his rescue, and who ended up convincing the princess to hire a wet nurse, who was actually her own mother..
Furthermore, there is another factor to highlight and closely related to color. And it is that Poussin made this painting for a silk merchant from Lyon, and of course he dressed all those women with skirts and garments that are the most elegant catalog that this textile entrepreneur could imagine. There is a whole riot of color in the clothes that stand out even more thanks to that landscape background, with vegetation and architecture, which provide a truly solemn and elegant presence to the scene.