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Moses Shown the Promised Land

Artist:
Benjamin West (American, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania 1738–1820 London)
Date:
1801
Medium:
Oil on wood
Dimensions:
19 3/4 x 28 3/4 in. (50.2 x 73 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. James W. Fosburgh, by exchange, 1969
Accession Number:
69.73
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 753
In London, West taught three generations of visitingAmerican artists, advancing both the Neoclassical and the Romantic styles. He was engaged for three decades in the massive decorative scheme for a Chapel of Revealed Religion that his kingly patron, George III, wished to erect at Windsor Castle. Although West completed more than thirty-five pictures, the project was eventually abandoned. The Museum’s oil sketch is probably a study for a large painting destined for the cycle, in which Moses was to play an important role. The shaft of light cutting diagonally through the Baroque composition symbolizes God’s revelation to Moses of the promised land he was to see but never enter himself.
Signature: [on the rock at lower center]: B. West 1801
the artist, until 1820; his sons, Raphael West and Benjamin West Jr., 1820–1829; sale, George Robins, London, 22 May 1829, no. 29; with Albert, 1829; sale, Sotheby and Company, London, 7 Jul. 1965, no. 132, as "Let There Be Light"; with Julius H. Weitzner, New York; with M. Knoedler and Company, New York, by 1969
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