​Rembrandt - Moses smashes the tables of the lawOil on canvas, 1659, 168,5 x 136,5 cm, Art Gallery in Berlin

It is enough now!


Picture description and interpretation of the famous painting'Moses Crushes the Law Tables' by Rembrandt!

Rembrandt - Moses smashes the tables of the law

At first sight you might think: Rembrandt — how typical! Is there another colour spectrum besides brown? This is deceptive, however, because time has increasingly darkened the painting and falsified the originally intensely coloured pigments. 

Nevertheless, the Dutch genius still manages to capture Moses' pain and anger impressively today. When he descends from Mount Sinai and after a long absence notices that his people worship an idol - a golden calf - his emotions come over him and he smashes the tables of the law. Of course, the question remains open for discussion as to whether another moment could not be meant here, namely the presentation of the same. In addition to the protagonist's facial expressions, findings from the museum's professional image analyses speak against this thesis. In addition, there is an easily overlooked indication: the hair on Moses' head has the shape of horns and could provide information about the moment depicted. Since the 12th century there have been portraits of Moses with two horns on his head. This goes back to the tradition that his face shone when he descended from Gottesberg. In Hebrew, the word "cross" stands for shining, but the Latin Bible translation Vulgate made a "horned forehead" out of it because of the similarities between the words.  

Rembrandt selects a frontal three-quarter figure against an undefined blurred and dynamic background. The face of Moses is brightly lit; two horns are indistinctly visible on his head. His position directly in front of the viewer with his raised arms and the heavy, dark plate of law gives the scene a special drastics. The Hebrew lettering on the blackboard is clearly visible. The rounded shape is based on contemporary law boards in the Netherlands. 

© the artinspector / alexandra tuschka