Moses thumbnail 1
Moses thumbnail 2
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Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Cast Courts, Room 46b, The Weston Cast Court

Moses

Statue
1513-1542 (sculpted), ca. 1858 (cast)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This figure was executed for the second project (1513) for Pope Julius II's tomb in San Pietro in Vincoli, Rome, and was planned for the second zone, above the right niche of the front. This project was not realised, however, and the Moses was not completed until 1542. Michelangelo chose the present position for the Moses during the final project of 1542-45. As it was designed for a higher viewpoint, the statue's proportions seem awkward when seen in its present low location in the church. Moses is depicted with horns, a traditional but inaccurate attribute of the Old Testament prophet in European art. The misinterpretation stems from the biblical description of a radiant Moses descending from Mount Sinai, with the Hebrew word for ‘ray’ being translated as ‘horns’.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Plaster cast, painted plaster.
Brief Description
Plaster cast, painted plaster, after the original marble statue of Moses for the tomb of Pope Julius II in the church of San Pietro in Vincoli, Rome, by Michelangelo, Rome, 1513-42. Cast by Monsieur Desachy in Paris, in about 1858.
Dimensions
  • Height: 236.5cm
  • Width: 109.5cm
Gallery Label
  • Cast of Michelangelo (1475–1564) Moses 1513–42 When the museum acquired this cast in 1858, the dramatic energy of Michelangelo’s marble Moses had been celebrated for centuries. The original formed part of Michelangelo’s unfinished tomb of Pope Julius II in San Pietro in Vincoli, Rome. Moses is depicted with horns, a traditional but inaccurate attribute of the Old Testament prophet in European art. The misinterpretation stems from the biblical description of a radiant Moses descending from Mount Sinai, with the Hebrew word for ‘ray’ being translated as ‘horns’. Cast Monsieur Desachy About 1858 Painted plaster Paris, France Museum no. Repro.1858-278 Original Marble Rome, Italy Church of San Pietro in Vincoli, Rome(2022)
  • Michelangelo carved the figure of Moses, together with the Slaves represented nearby, for the tomb of Pope Julius II. While the Slaves remained unfinished, Michelangelo finally completed the Moses nearly thirty years after he had started it. The imposing figure has horns, a traditional attribute of the Old Testament prophet, and holds the tablets of the law. The sculpture, of which this is a cast, has been celebrated for its dramatic energy since the 16th century.(2014)
Object history
Purchased from Desachy in 1858 for £45
Historical context
This figure was executed for the second project (1513) for Pope Julius II's tomb, and was planned for the second zone, above the right niche of the front. This project was not realised, and the Moses was not completed until 1542. Michelangelo chose the present position for the Moses during the final project of 1542-45. As it was designed for a higher viewpoint, the statue's proportions seem awkward when seen in its present low location in the church.
Subject depicted
Summary
This figure was executed for the second project (1513) for Pope Julius II's tomb in San Pietro in Vincoli, Rome, and was planned for the second zone, above the right niche of the front. This project was not realised, however, and the Moses was not completed until 1542. Michelangelo chose the present position for the Moses during the final project of 1542-45. As it was designed for a higher viewpoint, the statue's proportions seem awkward when seen in its present low location in the church. Moses is depicted with horns, a traditional but inaccurate attribute of the Old Testament prophet in European art. The misinterpretation stems from the biblical description of a radiant Moses descending from Mount Sinai, with the Hebrew word for ‘ray’ being translated as ‘horns’.
Bibliographic Reference
Trusted, Marjorie, ed. The Making of Sculpture. The Materials and Techniques of European Sculpture. London: 2007, p. 166-167, pl. 315
Collection
Accession Number
REPRO.1858-278

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record createdJuly 10, 2000
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