Sebastien Bourdon - The Finding of Moses [c.1655-60]

Bourdon (French, 1616 - 1671), one of the twelve founding members of the French art academy, had spent the years 1634-1637 studying in Rome. In 1652-1654 he served as court painter to Queen Christina of Sweden. An extremely eclectic artist, Bourdon borrowed motifs and styles from a wide variety of sources and at least once sold one of his own landscapes as a work by Claude Lorrain.

Seeking to provide an accurate setting in biblical Egypt, Bourdon included palm trees in the fanciful landscape. He adapted a few elements from two different treatments of this subject by Poussin. The composition, though, is more severely geometric than any of Poussin's works. Pharaoh's daughter and her retinue of handmaidens, for instance, are grouped into the silhouette of a perfect square. Moreover, the translucent colours are unique to Bourdon and foretell the pastel hues of early eighteenth-century art.

[Oil on canvas, 119.6 x 172.8 cm]