Moses and Aaron before Pharaoh: An Allegory of the Dinteville Family

Artist: Master of the Dinteville Allegory (Netherlandish or French, active mid-16th century)

Date: 1537

Medium: Oil on wood

Dimensions: 69 1/2 x 75 7/8 in. (176.5 x 192.7 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Wentworth Fund, 1950

Accession Number: 50.70


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).