In this large, allegorical family portrait, the Dinteville brothers act out a scene from Exodus 7:9. Pleading with Pharaoh to free the Israelites, Aaron (François II de Dinteville) transforms his rod into a serpent, proving that God is with him. Jean de Dinteville is depicted as Moses, while Gaucher and Guillaume stand behind them. The brothers were important members of the court of Francis I, who is represented as Pharaoh. Painted during a critical moment in their relationship with the French king, this extraordinary portrait hung in the family château of Polisy with an even more exceptional depiction of Jean de Dinteville: Holbein’s Ambassadors (National Gallery, London).
#5137. Moses and Aaron before Pharaoh: An Allegory of the Dinteville Family
In this striking example of allegorical portraiture, members of the Dinteville family are the protagonists in the biblical account in which the high priest Aaron and Moses petition Pharaoh to free the Israelites and allow them to depart Egypt (Exodus 5: 1–5). Aaron, whose staff has just turned into a snake, signaling God’s empowerment of him (Exodus 7:9), stands confidently before the enthroned and mystified Pharaoh. Aaron’s dress is a free interpretation of the high priest’s attire as described in Exodus 28, which makes general reference to traditional Jewish fabrics. He is surrounded by four men of whom only Moses, acting as an intermediary between the high priest and Pharaoh, can be identified as another Old Testament figure. Moses wears a colorful striped garment, loosely wrapped around his body in a manner appearing classically Greek or Hellenistic. Two other men behind the high priest wear a combination of modern and antique-style dress. They can be identified by inscriptions written in classical Majuscules along the edges of their clothes. Guillaume de Dinteville is at the right in red and his brother Gaucher de Dinteville, seigneur de Vanlay stands at the left in blue. Moses, too, bears an inscription on his robe: he is meant to be Jehan de Dinteville, seigneur de Polisy, where the castle of the Dinteville family stood. It is most likely that the high priest, although not specifically named, represents the fourth brother: François II de Dinteville, bishop of Auxerre. The ties to the Dinteville family are further underlined by two family blazons on which the high priest stands: one represents the Dinteville (1 and 4 sable, with two lions passant or; 2 and 3 azure, with a cross or between twenty billets, five in every canton), and the other Du Plessis (argent, with an engrailed cross gules charged with five escallops or), the family coats of arms of the brother’s parents. The figure second from the right who directly addresses the viewer may be a self-portrait of the painter of this ambitious work.
Crowned, holding his royal scepter, and attired in pseudo-antique armor of blue and gold, Pharaoh places one foot on the dark sphere that represents his terrestrial power. He is accompanied by his advisors, all dressed in slit leather pourpoints and tunics. Their short hair and long beards point to the fashion popular during the final year of the reign of Francis I. Elizabeth Brown (1999) suggested that Pharaoh could be a disguised portrait representing the combined features of the Dinteville’s adversaries, Francis I and Pierre de Mareuil.
The painting is mentioned in the 1589 inventory of the castle of Polisy where it hung in the private apartment of the bishop of Auxerre. Brown (1999) discussed the iconography of the painting in detail, and, following Mary Hervey and Robert Martin-Holland (1911), made the most probable suggestion of its meaning to date. She identified it as a commemorative allegory commissioned between 1538 and 1542. It refers to the turbulent period of the Dinteville brothers, otherwise favorites at King Francis’ court, when all of them but Jean fled to Italy to escape persecution for the allegations of sodomy made against Gaucher in 1538. After the king met with Jean in the ancestral castle at Polisy, the three remaining brothers were again accepted at the court of Francis I, and François de Dinteville returned to his diocese, although he had to wait another five years to see his rival Pierre de Mareuil (who took charge of his diocese during his absence) dismissed.
In the painting, Pharaoh appears unable to see the cause of the just as the inscription on Aaron’s mitre emphasizes: (Credidit Abra(ha)m d(omi)no et reputatu(m) est illi ad iustitiam (Gen. 15:6) "Abraham believed in God and it was imputed to him as righteousness/justice." Francis I deprived the Dinteville family of his favors, which forced them into exile for almost five years. Why exactly the date 1537 is given in the inscriptions identifying the brothers by name and age (which leaves no doubt about 1537) is not quite clear, nor is the signature Ioannes Holbein. It might be an allusion to Holbein’s famous Ambassadors (National Gallery, London, dated 1533) that depicts Jean de Dinteville and George de Selve, and that hung for some time in the family castle together with the Dinteville Allegory.
This painting is a rare example of pre-Fontainebleau Renaissance art in France. In a very planar, isocephalic alignment of impressively strong figures that recalls the compositional strategies of early Florentine mannerists, such as Bronzino or Pontormo, the entire scene takes place in the foreground. The background consists of a green velvet curtain behind the Dinteville brothers and a classical Roman triumphant arch and single column behind Pharaoh and his retinue of young men. The entabulature above the arch carries François de Dinteville’s motto Virtuti Fortuna Comes.
The tiny letters fT (?) occur in the green band at the left side of the cloth under Aaron’s right foot and may indicate the painter’s name. However, research on the possible identity of a painter with these initials has not yet yielded any positive results. Since 1911, the Metropolitan painting has been attributed to the same master, namely Bartholomeus Pons, who also painted the triptych of the Martyrdom of Saint Eugenia in Varzy, a small parish in Burgundy half way between Dijon and Bourges in the diocese of Auxerre. It was commissioned by the bishop in 1535 (signed in the right foreground) and donated to the collegiate church in Varzy in 1537 (according to the inscription on its frame). The Dinteville coat of arms appears prominently on the left wing, in the stained glass windows of the church choir in the central panel and on the door lintel below the motto VITUTI FORTUNA COMES, this time accompanied by a bishop’s hat as crest, leaving no doubt about the commissioner of the painting, François de Dinteville. In 1984, Joshua Bruyn mentioned that the church’s arched entrance in the central panel of the Martyrdom of Saint Eugenia shows two coats of arms: one he identified as the arms of the Saint Luke’s guild, the other as that of Haarlem. This led him to believe that a painter from this city was responsible for the execution of the Martyrdom of Saint Eugenia in Varzy and consequently for the Metropolitan panel. He found moreover that in the communal archive of Haarlem a note survived that a Roman cardinal paid for a commemorative service in 1518 to be held in Saint Bavo in Haarlem for several people, amongst whom was the name of the painter Bartholomeus Pons, "who currently lives in Tournus [in Southern Burgundy] in the house of maistre Guerad" (see Bruyn 1984, p. 100). Bartholomeus Pons is mentioned amongst the master painters of the Haarlem Saint Luke’s guild in 1502 and is believed to have painted an altar and the predella for an altar of the Evangelists for the Benedictine Egmond Abbey near Haarlem in 1523/24. Having traveled to Rome around 1518 and thereafter returning to Haarlem, Bruyn assumed that Bartholomeus Pons then went to Burgundy to work for the French nobility. The Haarlem master stayed in the house of a master from Tournus and on the wall supporting the gable above the church’s entry is the coat of arms of the Saint Luke’s guild and the city of Haarlem. However, the latter argument remains inconclusive since the chapter of the cathedral of Auxerre has a coat of arms almost identical to that of the Saint Luke’s guild, and this could only be identified by heraldic colors that are missing in this representation (see Deprouw-Augustin 2011).
The old identification with a canon from Auxerre, Félix Chrétien, which was proposed by Hervey and Martin Holland based on an account in 1911, has been rejected. Jacques Thuillier (1961) rightfully pointed out that the name of the loyal canon and the bishop’s secretary who followed François II de Dinteville to Rome during his exile became associated with the group of paintings due to a purely speculative mid-eighteenth- century source. An attribution to the canon Félix Chretien has been abandoned for the Metropolitan painting and the triptych with the Martyrdom of Saint Eugenia in Varzy, which both carry the coat of arms of the Dinteville family and now form the core paintings of the anonymous Master of the Dinteville Allegory. A Stoning of Saint Steven in the Cathedral of Auxerre dated 1540 also belongs to this group, its attribution to the master himself, however, is not generally accepted. A Descent into the Cave in Frankfurt (Städelsches Kunstinstitut) with the coat of arms of the Dinteville family and a Portrait of a Man à l’antique in the Louvre (R. F. 1971–18) may represent one of the Dinteville brothers, and these are also ascribed to the Master, as well as a fragment of a retable showing the Dream of Joseph, dated 1541, today in the Musée de Vauluisant in Troyes published by Cécile Scailliérez (see Cécile Scailliérez. "Da Francesco I a Enrico IV. Una pittura colta." La pittura francese. Ed. Pierre Rosenberg. Milan, 1999, pp. 169–237, see pp. 175–76, figs. 152, 153). In 2011, Stéphanie Deprouw-Augustin published two processional banners in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris that she ascribed to the Master of the Dinteville Allegory. She followed Frédéric Elsig who proposed that the Master was active in Troyes in 1522 (see Frédéric Elsig. "Un peintre de la Renaissance en Bourgogne: le Maître du triptyque d’Autun (Grégoire Guérard?)." Revue de l’art 147 (2005), pp. 79–90) but places his activity there during the time of the Dinteville exile in the years 1538–42. Although the attribution of the two banners in the Arts Décoratifs in Paris and the Assumption in Troyes is as critical as the Stoning of Saint Steven in the Cathedral of Auxerre, Elsig has connected the style of the Master of the Dinteville Allegory convincingly with the Triptych of Autun made in 1515, which he attributed to Grégoire Guérard, a painter of Netherlandish origin active in Burgundy between 1512 and 1530. Guérard is first mentioned in the accounts of the Carmelite convent in Châlons when in 1512 he is commissioned to paint a triptych with the Decollation of Saint Jacques, the Presentation and the Transfiguration for Saint-Jacques de Châlons, "as richly as the one in Saint-Laurent, even better if possible" (see Gabriel Jeanton. "Grégoire Guérard peintre bourguignon-flamand (seizième siècle)," Réunion des sociétés des beaux-arts des départements 37 (1913), pp. 61–66, cf. p. 64). Elsig proposed identifying the lost altarpiece of Saint Laurent with the panels in Saint-Léger-sur-Dheune close to Châlons, which were painted by the Master of the Triptych of Autun, hence the identification with Grégoire Guérard. It is believed that it was he who accommodated Bartholomeus Pons in his house in Tournus in 1518 after his return from Rome. However, it is neither certain that Grégoire Guérard, who is said to have been related to Erasmus of Rotterdam (see Jeanton 1913, note 13, pp. 62–63), also painted the altarpiece in Saint-Laurent nor that the panels today in Saint-Léger-sur-Dheune were indeed part of the lost triptych.
The artistic milieu of the Dinteville Allegory was first presented on a representative scale in the exhibition "La peinture en Bourgogne au XVIe siècle" (Dijon, 1990). New findings and several hitherto unknown artistic movements were introduced of which the Master of the Dinteville Allegory is an outstanding and rare example. This painter remains unidentified but reveals a strong Italian influence. The allusion to Holbein on the other hand refers to an interesting development in French portraiture in the second decade of the sixteenth century. Whereas Jean and François Clouet rose to be the dominant portraitists at the court of Francis I, Holbein (prior to his English engagement) and perhaps Joos van Cleve visited France, probably with the intention of working for the king. The Metropolitan painting is an important testimony of this artistic diversity and especially the tendencies developed in the regions along the Eastern borders of France.
[Christine Seidel 2014; addition by Maryan W. Ainsworth 2015]
Inscription: Dated and inscribed: (on hem of Moses' garment) ·IEHAN Sr DE·POLISY· / ·EN·AGE 33· / ·BAILLY·DE·TROYES / [EN?] ·1537·; (on hem of Gaucher's robe) 1537 / GAVCHER·Sr·DE·VANLAY· / EN AGE / 28; (on hem of Guillaume's robe) GVILLAVME· / DE SCHESNET / DE·DINTEVILLE·CHEV . . . / ·DESCVL IE·DE·MO [last letter cut by panel edge] / EN / AGE 32; (on Aaron's miter) CREDIDIT. / ABRAM·DNO. / ETREPVTATV. / EST·ILLI·AD.IVS / TITIAM· (And [Abraham] believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness [Genesis 15:6].); (on border of Aaron's gown) EN / 8; (upper left, on entablature) VIRTVTI FORTVNA COMES· (Fortune, the companion of merit [motto of the Dinteville family]); (lower left, falsely, on base of pharaoh's throne) IOANNES·HOLBEIN·1537
Dinteville family, Polisy, the château of Jean de Dinteville (1537–1653; inv., 1589); François de Cazillac, marquis de Cessac [descendant of Claude de Dinteville, niece of Jean de Dinteville], Paris (from 1653; inv., 1653); probably Marie-Renée le Genevois, granddaughter and heiress of François de Cazillac; her heir, Chrestien II de Lamoignon; his wife, Marie-Louise Gon de Bergonne (in 1728; inv., 1728); Chrétien-Guillaume de Lamoignon, son of Chrestien II de Lamoignon (from 1759; inv., 1759); his son, Chrétien François II de Lamoignon, marquis de Basville (until 1787 [as executor of estate of Nicolas Beaujon included the present work and Holbein's "Ambassadors" in Beaujon's sale]; sale, estate of Nicolas Beaujon, Hôtel d'Évreux, Rémy and Julliot fils, Paris, April 25–May 4, 1787, no. 16, as "La Cour de François II [sic] . . . ," by Holbein, sold with no. 15 bis, Holbein's "Ambassadors," to Lebrun); [Le Brun, Paris, 1787–91; sale, Paris, April 11, 1791, no. 44, as "La Cour de François II [sic] . . . ," by Holbein, for Fr 40 to Pois]; ?comte de Cerny, château de Lisy, near Anisy-le-Château, Aisne, France; sale, Boucly/Masson (comm. pris.) and Delaroche/Destouches (experts), Paris, December 3, 1810, no. 35; sale, Le Chevalier/Elie, Paris, October 28, 1811, no. 80, for Fr 2200; probably Capt. Stair Hathorn Stewart, Glasserton, Withorn, Scotland (until d. 1865); his grandson, Stair Hathorn Johnston Stewart, Glasserton (until d. 1905); his half-brother, Admiral Robert Hathorn Johnston Stewart, Glasserton (by 1910–d. 1940; sale, Christie's, London, February 26, 1910, no. 106, as "Property of a Gentleman, said to represent King Henry VIII, as Pharaoh . . . ," to Dale, bought in; Stewart's estate, 1940–48; sale Christie's, London, July 23, 1948, no. 58, with "one [figure] said to represent Henry VIII, as Pharaoh . . . ," to Sabin); [Frank T. Sabin, London, 1948–50; sold to MMA]
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Art Treasures of the Metropolitan," November 7, 1952–September 7, 1953, no. 106.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "From Van Eyck to Bruegel: Early Netherlandish Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," September 22, 1998–February 21, 1999, no. 43.
Charles Blanc. Le trésor de la curiosité. Vol. 2, Paris, 1858, p. 129, records the contents of the 1791 Lebrun sale, including this picture.
Mary F. S. Hervey and Robert Martin-Holland. "A Forgotten French Painter: Félix Chrétien." Burlington Magazine 19 (April 1911), pp. 48–55, ill., attribute the painting to Félix Chrétien, a chorister at Auxerre who was taken under the protection of François II de Dinteville, Bishop of Auxerre, and eventually became his secretary; also ascribe to Chrétien a triptych of "The Life of Saint Eugenia" in the Church of Varzy, Nièvre, and a "Stoning of Saint Stephen" in the Cathedral at Auxerre; identify four standing figures in the right foreground as the Dinteville brothers, observing that Pharaoh "can only be intended to personify Francis I," although the features show little resemblance to his usual portraits; suggest that the second head from the left is the artist's self-portrait; discuss the significance of the allegory, relating it to a conflict between factions in the French court and threats to the position of François de Dinteville as bishop.
P. G. Konody. "Letters to the Editors: 'A Forgotten French Painter: Félix Chrétien'." Burlington Magazine 19 (1911), p. 106, identifies this painting as the work sold as the companion to Holbein's "Ambassadors" (now National Gallery, London) in the 1787 Beaujon sale.
Mary F. S. Hervey. "Notes on Various Works of Art: 'A Forgotten French Painter: Félix Chrétien'." Burlington Magazine 19 (1911), p. 164, supports Konody's finding [Ref. 1911].
M. H. Bernath inAllgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler. Ed. Ulrich Thieme. Vol. 6, Leipzig, 1912, p. 532, mentions our painting under the name of Félix Chrétien, drawing on the 1911 article of Hervey and Martin-Holland.
Art Treasures of the Metropolitan: A Selection from the European and Asiatic Collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1952, p. 227, no. 106, colorpl. 106.
Anthony Blunt. Art and Architecture in France, 1500 to 1700. Baltimore, 1953, pp. 68, 83 n. 85, pl. 46B, calls it by far the most striking work attributed to Chrétien and observes that the composition, which is German rather than Italian in type, must have been directly influenced by Holbein's "Ambassadors"; states that our picture was conceived as a pendant to the latter work; notes that the features of Pharaoh show little resemblance to those of Francis I and that the King would hardly have been flattered by a portrait of himself in this guise.
"The Dintevilles before the Dauphin Henri (circa 1543) in 'The Judgement of Solomon'." Connoisseur 133 (May 1954), p. 193, ascribe to Félix Chrétien a "Judgment of Solomon" on the London art market.
Charles Sterling. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of French Paintings. Vol. 1, XV–XVIII Centuries. Cambridge, Mass., 1955, pp. 44–47, ill., ascribes the painting to Chrétien, observing that "its elaborate Roman and semi-oriental costumes and its heavy throne with inlaid decoration, testifies to the archaeological pedantry of the humanistic circle around Lambert Lombard"; sees the influence of Holbein in the portrait heads, and notes that the crowding of the figures against the frame suggests that the panel may have been cut down.
Michael Levey. National Gallery Catalogues: The German School. London, 1959, pp. 48, 52–53 n. 2, mentioned as by Félix Chrétien in relation to Holbein's "Ambassadors".
Jacques Thuillier. "Études sur le cercle des Dinteville: L'énigme de Félix Chrestien." Art de France 1 (1961), pp. 57–75, ill., questions the attribution to Chrétien and notes that Hervey and Martin-Holland's identification of him as a painter is based solely on the Abbé Lebeuf's observation (see "Mémoires concernant l'histoire . . . d'Auxerre, 1743, vol. 1, p. 598) that the two paintings in Varzy and Auxerre "passent pour être de la façon de Félix Chrétien, chanoine . . ."; observes that the style of our painting suggests an artist trained in the Netherlands or Germany, and ascribes the Varzy triptych to the same hand, noting that it bears an illegible inscription in Dutch; associates with the MMA and Varzy pictures a painting representing wine barrels being lowered into a cellar, which bears the arms of François I de Dinteville and the date 1537 (Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt), and an altarpiece of the Nativity in the château de Commarin, Côte-d'Or; attributes the "Stoning of Saint Stephen" at Auxerre to one of the many French artists active in the provinces making stained glass windows; comments inexplicably that contrary to usual depictions of Moses and Aaron before Pharaoh, Pharaoh is not represented here, possibly to avoid identification of a Dinteville enemy.
Albert Châtelet and Jacques Thuillier. French Painting from Fouquet to Poussin. [Geneva], 1963, pp. 112–15, comment on its affinities with the Roman school, particularly Giulio Romano, and with Northern art.
John Pope-Hennessy. The Portrait in the Renaissance. Princeton, 1966, pp. 250–51, 324 n. 54, pl. 275, calls the attribution to Félix Chrétien "conjectural," observes that the artist was probably a Fleming, and notes that the features of Pharaoh "have more than a chance resemblance to Francis I"; comments that "the painting is by no means a great work of art, but its space structure depends from the [Holbein's] 'Ambassadors,' and its politico-religious symbolism offers an indication of the lines on which the 'Ambassadors' should be interpreted".
Anthony Blunt. Art and Architecture in France, 1500 to 1700. 2nd ed. [1st ed. 1953]. Baltimore, 1970, pp. 63–64, 255 n. 65, pl. 46B, ascribes it to an unknown artist, observing that "It has now been shown . . . that Chrétien was not a painter at all but the secretary to the bishop . . . "; suggests that this painting is by an artist trained in Holland, since many of the heads recall the style of Jan van Scorel, and agrees with Thuillier's attribution of the Varzy triptych, but not the "Stoning of Saint Stephen," to the same hand.
Michel Laclotte. "Nouvelles présentations, Musée du Louvre: Nouvelles salles au Département des peintures." Revue du Louvre et des musées de France 22, no. 1 (1972), p. 62, illustrates a portrait of a man in antique costume recently acquired by the Louvre which he finds close to the portraits in our painting and the triptych at Varzy; ascribes all three works to "Pseudo Félix Chrétien".
J. Bruyn. Letter to John Walsh. February 14, 1973, ascribes this picture and the triptych at Varzy to the same hand, noting that he found on the Varzy triptych two coats of arms, one of the guild of Saint Luke and the other of the city of Haarlem; believes that the painter came from Haarlem and that he was a direct pupil of Holbein.
Brigitte Walbe. "Studien zur Entwicklung des allegorischen Porträts in Frankreich von seinen Anfängen bis zur Regierunszeit König Heinrichs II." PhD diss., Johann-Wolfgang-Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt, 1974, pp. 100–102, 215 nn. 325–27, p. 216 nn. 328–32, discusses it as probably by a Dutch artist, the same master that painted the "Triptych of Saint Eugénie" at Varzy.
Katharine Baetjer. "Pleasures and Problems of Early French Painting." Apollo 106 (November 1977), pp. 347–48, ill.
R. H. Johnston Stewart. Letter to Mary Sprinson de Jesús. September 13, 1984, provides information about the provenance; notes that this painting was listed in the catalogue of pictures at Glasserton (now lost) as "possibly by Holbein".
J. Bruyn. "Over de betekenis van het werk van Jan van Scorel omstreeks 1530 voor oudereen jongere tijdgenoten, IV. De Pseudo-Félix Chrétien: een Haarlemse schilder (Bartholomeus Pons?) bij de bischop van Auxerre." Oud-Holland 98, no. 2 (1984), pp. 98–110, pls. 4–5 (overall and detail), suggests that the painter of our picture and the Varzy triptych may have been Bartholmeus Pons, a Haarlem painter who visited Rome and departed again before June 22, 1518, when a letter of indulgence was addressed to him care of a master at "Tornis" (possibly Tournus in Burgundy); ascribes to the artist's workshop the "Stoning of Saint Stephen" at Auxerre and the 1537 panel at Frankfurt; notes that the artist seems to be aware of "Raphael's work in its classical phase of about 1515–16 and to have been influenced mainly by the style of the cartoons for the Sistine tapestries".
Olivier Bonfait. Revue de l'art no. 73 (1986), p. 36, ill., discusses the provenance of this picture and Holbein's "Ambassadors" and notes that when they belonged to the Lamoignon family they were always hung in the same room and appear to have been pendants.
Marguerite Guillaume et al. La peinture en Bourgogne au XVIe siècle. Exh. cat., Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon. [Dijon], 1990, pp. 108, 117–18, ascribe the triptych of Saint Eugénie to a Netherlandish painter active in Burgundy, the same artist who produced our Allegory, and ascribe the "Stoning of Saint Stephen" to another artist, perhaps French, active in Burgundy.
Jacques Thuillier inTrésors cachés des églises de la Nièvre. Ed. Fabrice Cario. Exh. cat.Nevers, France, 1990, pp. 100, 102–3.
Friedrich Polleross. "Between Typology and Psychology: The Role of the Identification Portrait in Updating Old Testament Representations." Artibus et Historiae no. 24 (1991), pp. 85, 87.
Susan Foister et al. Making & Meaning: Holbein's Ambassadors. Exh. cat., National Gallery. London, 1997, pp. 23–25, 28–29, 87, 101 nn. 15–19, ill., notes that although this picture was painted four years after Holbein's "Ambassadors," "it would seem possible that it was designed to match the earlier picture in some way"; observes that in the 1589 inventory of the château de Polisy our picture is described as hanging over a fireplace in rooms described as new, while the "Ambassadors" was displayed in the old part of the château; suggests, nevertheless, that the pictures originally "hung closer to each other, in the same or adjacent rooms, and that their similar size was dictated by the ambient architecture of the building before the enlargements".
Mary Sprinson de Jesús inFrom Van Eyck to Bruegel: Early Netherlandish Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Ed. Maryan W. Ainsworth and Keith Christiansen. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1998, pp. 144–45, 198–201, 398, no. 43, ill. (overall in color and detail), dubs the artist "Master of the Dinteville Allegory"; notes that E. A. R. Brown believes the panel was painted in 1538, in spite of the appearance of the date 1537 throughout the composition, and that she sees the inscription "EN / 8" on Aaron's cape as a cryptic record of the paintings actual date of creation.
Elizabeth A. R. Brown. "The Dinteville Family and the Allegory of Moses and Aaron before Pharaoh." Metropolitan Museum Journal 34 (1999), pp. 73–100, ill., discusses the painting and the the Dinteville family in depth, in particular their political circumstances during the 1530s and 1540s; suggests the inscription "EN 8" on Aaron's robe may indicate that the picture was actually painted in 1538, the year of the brothers' greatest disgrace, rather than in 1537 (as inscribed on Gaucher's robe), a year in which the family's reputation was unblemished; reproduces a portrait drawing of Pierre de Mareuil, to whom the see of Auxerre was transferred when François II de Dinteville was exiled in Italy, and suggests that the head of Pharaoh may be a composite representation of the brother's chief adversaries during these years, Francis I and Pierre de Mareuil; believes the picture was commissioned by François II, perhaps while he was in exile.
Nicole Dacos. "Cartons et dessins raphaélesques à Bruxelles: L'action de Rome aux Pays-Bas." Fiamminghi a Roma: atti del convegno internazionale Bruxelles 24–25 febbraio 1995. Ed. Nicole Dacos. Rome, , p. 11, fig. 16 (color), states that the mastery of perspective and a certain competence in the handling of anatomy are due, not to a trip to Rome, but to the artist's knowledge of Raphael's cartoons in Brussels, from which he borrowed liberally; asserts that Pharaoh and the figures standing behind him in our picture derive from The Blinding of Elymas, while the man who closes the composition, his hand in his cloak, is taken from Saint Paul in Athens [both cartoons are in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London]; sees other influences here from the school of Brussels, in the clever arrangement of figures around the protagonists, and the astonishingly smooth modeling of drapery reminiscent of Jan van Scorel; notes that the handling of light and shadow betray a knowledge of Holbein's Ambassadors (National Gallery, London).
Ian Wardropper. "The Flowering of the French Renaissance." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 62 (Summer 2004), pp. 22–23, ill. (color), notes that the painting reveals the period penchant for identification with Old Testament or classical figures.
Annick Addé-Lebreton. "A propos de la famille de Dinteville." Bulletin de la Société des Fouilles Archéologiques et des Monuments Historiques de l'Yonne no. 22 (2005), p. 18, ill. p. 19, notes that the same faces can be recognized in the triptych of the Legend of Saint Eugénie, Varzy.
Bodo Brinkmann. "'Quelque chose d'un peu sauvage': Ein ungewöhnliches Interieur für den Bruder eines Holbein-Kunden." Hans Holbein und der Wandel in der Kunst des frühen 16. Jahrhunderts. Ed. Bodo Brinkmann and Wolfgang Schmid. Turnhout, Belgium, 2005, pp. 255–56, fig. 4, attributes the "Cellar Scene" in the Städel Museum, Frankfurt, to the Master of the Dinteville Allegory.
Pierre Rosenberg. Only in America: One Hundred Paintings in American Museums Unmatched in European Collections. Milan, 2006, pp. 62–63, 234, ill. (color).