The Test of Fire of Moses Giorgione Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Test of Fire of Moses by the Italian Giorgione (1500-1501) is a painting from the year 1505, found at Galleria Degli Uffizi of Florence. The medium of the artwork is Oil in Panel and measures 89 cm × 72 cm. The painting has a horizontal setting, which enables the artist to instil detail on the landscape.

The painting is inspired by a story on the Moses of the Bible, events happening in ancient Egypt. In the background is a palace, and several trees. Some hills also feature right behind the palace. The people wear brown and black clothes tailored in a classical design, which gives the painting a bygone feel. In the inset is a King sitting on a throne. In ancient Egypt, the name translates to Pharaoh, from history. Bibilically, in the book of Exodus, a story is told of a character named Moses, who was hidden in a swamp following a decree by the king that all-male firstborns of the Israelite community be killed. In this case, the baby at hand is Moses.

A woman stands in front of the king. This woman represents Pharaoh's daughter, who received Moses after being found. The woman had decided to take care of the baby, and in the painting, explains Moses' case to the Father. The posture of the people gives the painting a calm gesture and is a sign of acceptance. The presentation of the servants before the king seems relaxed since there are no signs of bowing or curtsying. The women are deeply concerned, most likely due to the welfare of the baby. This concern, met with relaxed gestures, makes the atmosphere look relieving.

A baby found lying in a swamp is presented before the king's home, and a possible ticket to death reverted to adoption in the royal family. What a sigh of relief! Test of Fire of Moses shows Moses feigning death (fire) and surviving through to past the test, and consequently winning the heart of the king out of his (Moses) predicament. The servants show a sigh of relief, and from the painting, they are actively present in what would symbolise a cheering on of Moses as he overcomes the fire.

Eventually, the servants also would play the role of celebrating him after the test, whereby Moses is accepted, signifying a pass. Test of Fire of Moses gives sighs of relief and comfort out of a story of helplessness mired with courage and unprecedented victory. The painting is motivational, and a viewer relating with it gets to see some light at the end of their tunnel, just like Moses.