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Barbarini Family, Rome, c. 17th century
Charles Mather Ffoulke, 1889-1909
Museum purchase, California Palace of the Legion of Honor, General Fund
Moses kneels with arms upraised to receive from God the Tablets of the Law. Two small angels hold the stone tablets so that the commandments can be “written with the finger of God” (Exodus 31:18). The inscription reads: VNV/ CRE/ DE/ DEVM/ + NEC/ IV/ RES/ VANE/ HABE/ AS/ IN/ HONO/ RE/ PAREM/ ES [for PARENTES] “Believe in one God. Do not swear in vain. Honor thy parents.” A second scene, enacted in the middle distance, is framed by the ivy-bearing tree at the right. Descending from the mountain with the tablets, Moses discovers the Israelites dancing around the Golden Calf as Aaron stands passively by. Moses’ anger is expressed in the torsion of his body as he lifts the sacred tablets to dash them to the ground. From Anna Gray Bennett, "Five Centuries of Tapestry: The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco" (San Francisco: Chronicle Books; The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, 1976; repr. 1992): p. 126.