Saturday, 1 March 2014

Moses and his Nubian Wife

Jacob Jordaens, Moses and his Nubian Wife, 1650
This picture is outside my period so, let me make the usual art historian’s caveat when venturing outside their comfort zone  aka period – this is not my period!

Jacob Jordaens, Moses and his Nubian Wife, 1650 was painted nearly a century after the death of Michelangelo in 1564, which I have unilaterally and arbitrarily placed as the end of my period, so this is way outside my comfort zone.

Having said that  I am not aware of any other paintings of a similar composition within or outside my period, further, according to Prof Elizabeth McGrarth in her excellent YouTube video introduction to the work says it is unique.

Moses with his black African wife (Numbers 12.1) was an Old Testament scene which never created by a Renaissance artist unlike others eg Susanna and the Elders  (Daniel 13)  or the worshipping false gods or idols (Exodus 32) There are several versions of these images by difference artists which were used  by the Renaissance Church to educate its congregations.

I am inclined to agree with Prof McGrath that the image of Moses with his black wife served no teaching purpose and was no reference model for the Church at that time. In contrast the image of the Black Magus with its message of the coming together of all nations at the end times had a purpose unlike, Jordaen's image seems to have no use in educating or retaining a congregation, thus Renaissance artists believed it not worthy of painting, consequently Jordaen's image remains a one off.