Moses and the Ten Commandments Lorenzo Ghiberti 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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This powerful and emotive scene features Moses receiving the Ten Commandments from God in one of ten gilded bronze panels by Lorenzo Ghiberti for his Gates of Paradise series

In the foreground you will see all the tribes of Israel who have gathered at the bottom of the mountain in order to witness this historic moment. It is the rocky mountain that perhaps grabs the eye first, with the sculptured surface protruding out from the surface of the artwork to give a three dimensional finish.

The eye will then lead on to Moses and his interaction with the heavens, which is the focal point of this narrative. The multitude of figures at the bottom adds further interest and also allows Ghiberti to further confirm his exceptional skills of portraiture.

The trees dotted around the foreground are again in his typical style, very long, narrow trunks with decorative leaves at the top. This format is repeated in many of his other panels for this series, nicknamed by Michelangelo, no less, as the Gates of Paradise.

The Ten Commandments were highly significant within the Christian religion, providing a framework from which to base one's morals. Whilst life cannot be simplified into a short list of ten pointers, it did allow us to understand some of the most important guidelines around which to base our own behaviour.

Perhaps Michelangelo's own love for this series of panels was the inspiration for his own Moses sculpture later on, considered one of that artist's finest sculptures in an extraordinary career of versatility and technical excellence.