Moses Smashes the Stone Tablets with the Covenant Rembrandt 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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Rembrandt van Rijn's Moses Smashes the Stone Tablets with the Covenant is also sometimes referred to as Moses Smashes the Stone Tablets with the Covenant and was completed by the artist in his early 50s

The precise date given by most reliable sources place this artwork at 1659 and it is generally considered to have been left incomplete by the time of the artist's passing. Despite this, the original painting is still worth appreciating in person and can normally be found at the Gemaldegalerie Berlin, Germany.

Moses lifts up the tables as he descends the holy mountain. This scene features him holding them aloft, displaying a supreme prize, whilst at the same time threatening to destroy when he believes i God's own work. Such powerful tales are frequent throughout religious scripture and help to strengthen believer's commitment to the cause.

The decision my Moses to smash the tablets is due to his followers' decision to worship the Golden Calf, a choice made whilst he was away on the holy mountain. The text found on the tablets is in Hebrew, but how would Rembrandt be able to produce such an accurate depiction of this foreign language? That is certainly one of the issues that has caused so much discussion around this particular painting.

The other question raised by the Corpus survey of his life's work is whether this is another cropped painting, originally featuring a full length portrait of Moses. Their theory is that it was intended for the new Amsterdam Town Hall. This latter discussion has been successfully concluded through x-rays which confirm it is in its original form, but the use of hebrew is best explained by Rembrandt's connections within Amsterdam at that time.