Moses Shown the Promised Land

Benjamin West American

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 717

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.

Moses Shown the Promised Land, Benjamin West (American, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania 1738–1820 London), Oil on wood, American

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