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Pharaoh's Daughter Receives the Mother of Moses

James Jacques Joseph Tissot (French, 1836-1902)

Pharaoh's Daughter Receives the Mother of Moses, c. 1896-1902

  • Gouache on board
  • 8 5/8 x 10 7/16 in. (22.5 x 26.5 cm)
  • The Jewish Museum, New York
  • Gift of the heirs of Jacob Schiff, X1952-146

Not on view

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Pharaoh's Daughter Receives the Mother of Moses

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Pharaoh's Daughter Receives the Mother of Moses

In Pharaoh’s Daughter Receives the Mother of Moses, the statuesque figure in the center faces outward toward the viewer. The other figures face the center of the composition. The women are not individualized but read more as types. This may be due, in part, to the fact that their eyes are not visible; they are closed, hidden by hair, or obscured by shadow. The baby Moses is sleeping at the lower center of the composition.

The scene takes place within a clearing of tall cornflower blue and tan bulrushes. A slight wind is implied by the movement of brush in the foreground and the back right of the painting.

Amid the mostly vertical lines of the plants, a strong diagonal links the main characters—running from the outstretched arm of Pharaoh’s daughter through the prostrate bodies of Moses’ mother and sister.

The hot orange-yellow of the Egyptian sun in the upper-right corner complements and contrasts with the cool blue of the reeds. Individual brushstrokes are visible throughout the composition. The paint ranges from transparent to opaque, depending on the amount of white mixed in the gouache. The contours of the figures and the sun are painted in a light, transparent brown.

Sources:

Berger, Maurice, and Joan Rosenbaum, eds. Masterworks of The Jewish Museum. New York: The Jewish Museum; New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2004.

Muffs, Yochanan, and Gert Schiff. J. James Tissot: Biblical Paintings. New York: The Jewish Museum, 1982.