Moses Presenting the Tablets of the Law

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Philippe de Champaigne (French, 1602–1674)
Moses Presenting the Tablets of the Law, ca. 1648
Oil on canvas
39 × 30 in. (99.06 × 76.2 cm)
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Myron Laskin Sr. M1964.121
Photo credit: Efraim Lev-er
Currently on View

Brussels-born French artist Philippe de Champaigne enjoyed a 40-year career painting for aristocracy that included Louis XIII and Cardinal Richelieu. His attraction to the strict Jansenist Catholic reform movement may have underlain the rigorous truthfulness and careful skill that he brought to his intelligent interpretation of portraits and religious themes. Champaigne’s asceticism and sincerity are evident in this portrayal of a courtly but exotic Moses presenting the Ten Commandments. With characteristic concern for accuracy, Champaigne arranged the commandments in the order recommended by contemporary theologians and on tablets whose rectangular shape was considered authentic. His powerful naturalism, depicting each wrinkle and dirty fingernail as faithfully as the texture of the velvet, eloquently conveys the humble fervor of the prophet.

Publication History
Schorr Collection, and Christopher Wright. The Schorr Collection: Catalogue of Old Master and Nineteenth-Century Paintings. 2014, cat. 61, p. 65, color illus. Champaigne, Philippe de, Alain Tapié, and Pierre-Nicolas Sainte-Fare-Garnot. Philippe de Champaigne, 1602-1674: entre politique et dévotion : Palais des beaux-arts, Lille, April 27 2007-15 août 2007, Musée Rath, Genève, 20 septembre 2007-13 janvier 2008. Paris: Réunion des musées nationaux, 2007. Milwaukee Art Museum News, June 2007, no page number, color illus. (detail). Andera, Margaret, Nonie Gadsden, Britt Salvesen, and Laurie Winters. Collection Guide: Milwaukee Art Museum. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Milwaukee Art Museum, 2004, pp. 15, 68, cat. 14, color illus. p. 15. Kluk, Maria. Konfrontacje, Inspiracje, Spotkania..., Arcydziela malarstwa europejskiego z muzeow amerykanskich i polskich (Masterpieces of European Painting from American and Polish Collections: Inspiration, Contribution, Integration). Warsaw, Poland: National Museum in Warsaw, 2003, p. 24–5, cat. 4, color illus. p. 25. Milwaukee Art Museum. Building a Masterpiece: Milwaukee Art Museum. New York: Hudson Hill Press, 2001, p. 73, color illus. Goncalves, Jose. Philippe de Champaigne. Paris: ACR Edition, 1995, color illus. p. 161. Journey into the Masterpieces: Time through Painting 17th Century II. Japan: Kodansha Press, 1994, p. 79, color fig. 4-11, credit p. 148 and 152-153. Goldstein, Rosalie, ed. Guide to the Permanent Collection. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Milwaukee Art Museum, 1986, p. 38, color illus. p. 38. Rosenberg, Pierre. La Peinture française du XVII siècle dans les collections américaines. Paris: Ministe`re de la culture, Editions de la Re´union des muse´es nationaux, 1982, p. 233-32, cat. 15, illus. p. 153 & 234. Wilkins, Ronald J. Religions of the World. Dubuque: Wm. C. Brown Company, 1979, illus. p. 91. Milwaukee Journal, October 13, 1964, b/w illus. Milwaukee Journal, November 22, 1964, color illus. Milwaukee Journal. October 11, 1964, b/w illus. Petitjean, Charles, Charles Wickert, and Franc¸ois Courboin. Catalogue de l'oeuvre grave´ de Robert Nanteuil. Paris: L. Delteil et M. Le Garrec, 1925, p. 383. Monsieur X, Paris [sale catalogue]. Paris: Monsieur X, 1904, no. 8. Doctor Leroy d'Etoilles, Paris, February 21, 1861 [auction catalogue]. Paris: Doctor Leroy d'Etoilles, no. 9. Cardinal Fesch Gallery, Rome, March 17-18, 1845 [auction catalogue]. Rome: Cardinal Fesch Gallery, 1845, p. 15, no. 279. George. Catalogue Raisonne des Tableax de Galerie Cardinal Fesch. Rome: Galerie Cardinal Fesch, 1844. Fe´libien, Andre´. Entretiens sur les vies et sur les ouvrages des plus excellens peintres anciens et modernes. Trevoux: De l'Imprimerie de S.A.S, 1725, p. 312-325. Encyclopedia of Saints. France: p. 138 (see artist file).
Exhibition History
Philippe de Champagne, Musee Rath, Geneva, Switzerland, September 20, 2007–January 13, 2008. Konfrontacje, Inspiracje, Spotkania..., Arcydziela malarstwa europejskiego z muzeow amerykanskich i polskich (Masterpieces of European Painting from American and Polish Collections: Inspiration, Contribution, Integration), National Museum of Warsaw, Poland, February 28–May 4, 2003. La Peinture française du XVII siècle dans les collections américaines, Galeries nationales dur Grand Palais, Paris, January 29–April 26, 1982; Metropolitan Museum of Art, May 26–August 22, 1982; Art Institute of Chicago, September 18–November 28, 1982.


This information is subject to change as the result of ongoing research.