On their arduous journey from slavery in Egypt, the Israelites bitterly complained of thirst. Instructed by God, Moses, their leader, struck a rock with his rod and water spilled out. In this work, the artist emphasized calm resolution by depicting the travelers after the miracle rather than...
On their arduous journey from slavery in Egypt, the Israelites bitterly complained of thirst. Instructed by God, Moses, their leader, struck a rock with his rod and water spilled out. In this work, the artist emphasized calm resolution by depicting the travelers after the miracle rather than during it, possibly to symbolize the Church's deliverance of spiritual refreshment to humanity. Although a prolific printmaker, Lucas van Leyden made only about fifteen paintings. Painting with tempera on linen, as in this work, was considered a less-expensive alternative to tapestry decoration, but the medium has proven susceptible to darkening over time.
lower center, on rock: 1527 / L
By 1657, Borghese family, Rome [see note 1]; by descent within the family to Agnese Borghese (b. 1836 - d. 1920), Principessa di Piombino, Rome [see note 2]. 1900, with Julius Böhler, Munich. 1900, acquired on the Munich art market by the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg [see note 3]; 1954, sold by the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, through the Schaeffer Galleries, New York (stock no. 1563), to the MFA for $135,000 [see note 4]. (Accession Date: December 9, 1954) NOTES:  This is probably the painting by Lucas van Leyden recorded in the Borghese collection as early as 1657. See the summary of the early provenance by Elise Lawton Smith, "The Paintings of Lucas van Leyden: A New Appraisal, with Catalogue Raisonné" (University of Missouri Press, 1992), pp. 101, 302-302, cat. no. 7.  On its acquisition by the Principessa di Piombino in or about 1888, see Giovanni Piancastelli, in "L'Arte" 1 (1898): 219. The Principessa must have been Agnese Borghese, wife of Rodolfo, 7th Prince of Piombino (b. 1832 - d. 1911). The painting is said to have remained in the Villa Borghese until 1891 in the "Katalog der Gemälde-Sammlung des Germanischen Nationalmuseums in Nürnberg" (Nürnberg, 1909), p. 28, cat. no. 80, though when it left the possession of the family is not clear.  It is unclear whether it was purchased directly from Böhler. See the "Katalog der Gemälde-Sammlung" (as above, n. 2).  On its sale, see "Entering the Public's Domain," Art News, December 1955, p. 16.
William K. Richardson Fund