Moses on Mount Sinai

Jean-Léon Gérôme, Moses on Mount Sinai, 1895–1900. Oil on canvas.

Jean-Léon Gérôme was among the most officially honored and commercially successful French artists of the second half of the 19th century. Gérôme represented history as a dramatic spectacle, and the public could feel like an eyewitness to events he painted from classical antiquity. This piece illustrates Exod 19:18-19: “Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke, because the Lord had descended upon it in fire; the smoke went up like the smoke of a kiln, while the whole mountain shook violently. As the blast of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses would speak and God would answer him in thunder.”

Gérôme’s history paintings have influenced contemporary theater and film imagery, partly because he welcomed having his paintings mass-reproduced and dispersed across Europe and America using the new photomechanical processes available in his time.

Jean-Léon Gérôme, Moses on Mount Sinai. Oil on canvas, 1895–1900.

The historical period from the beginning of Western civilization to the start of the Middle Ages.

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