Wedding Ceremony of Moses and Zipporah

Charles Le Brun

Paris, 1619 – 1690


Oil on canvas, 113 x 122cm

Signed and dated in 1687, this painting (along with the corresponding piece, Moses Defending the Daughters of Jethro, inv. 238) was created for Louis XIV’s private apartment in the Palace of Versailles. After having remained in the French king’s collection for centuries, in 1815 these two paintings were given to the Galleria Estense in partial compensation for all the goods taken by the Napoleonic troops and never returned to Modena. 

For decades, Le Brun was the undisputed ‘artistic dictator’ of Paris under the Sun King. He developed an opulent, yet thoroughly classical, artistic language which both reflected and expressed the grand goût of the absolute monarchy. Painted at the end of a long career, Le Brun executed this work with unexpected freshness and balance, at the same time rigorously adhering to an almost archaeological reconstruction of the biblical scene. The masterful innovations of Nicolas Poussin, father of modern French painting, were clearly a direct source of inspiration here.