Moses in the Bullrushes

Media - 1983.95.197 - SAAM-1983.95.197_1 - 84187
Copied Henry Ossawa Tanner, Moses in the Bullrushes, 1921, oil on wood panel, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Norman Robbins, 1983.95.197
Free to use

Artwork Details

Moses in the Bullrushes
22 3815 18 in. (56.838.5 cm)
Credit Line
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Norman Robbins
Mediums Description
oil on wood panel
  • Landscape — river — Nile River
  • Religion — Old Testament — Moses
Object Number

Artwork Description

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.