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Moses in the Bullrushes

1921 Henry Ossawa Tanner Born: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 1859 Died: Paris, France 1937 oil on wood panel 22 3/8 x 15 1/8 in. (56.8 x 38.5 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Norman Robbins 1983.95.197 Smithsonian American Art Museum
Luce Foundation Center, 3rd Floor, 12A

Luce Center Label

Henry Ossawa Tanner took most of his themes from the New Testament, but also made several paintings of the story of Moses. The mother of Moses had set her infant son adrift in the Nile in a basket of reeds so that Pharaoh’s soldiers would not slay the Hebrew child. Pharaoh’s daughter found the baby, who was raised in the palace until Moses rejected his royal position and led his people to freedom. The muted blues capture the nighttime scene, where the moonlight reflecting on the water may signify God’s presence.


Landscape - river - Nile River

Religion - Old Testament - Moses


paint - oil