Giuseppe Maria Crespi, known as Lo Spagnuolo
(Bologna 1665 – 1747)

Moses Defending the Daughters of Jethro

Oil on canvas, 135 x 155 cm (53 x 61 inches)

«In those days, Moses, » narrates the Shĕmōt[…] left the Pharoah [from Egypt; we are in the Book of Exodus] and settled in the land of Midian and sat beside a well» (2, 11-21). The setting is the east coast of the Elanitic Gulf (el-‘ Aqabah) where Jethro (also called Reuel), “the priest of Midian had seven daughters. They came to draw water,” continues the biblical account “to fill the troughs for their father’s flock. But shepherds arrived and chased them away. Moses then came to their aid and let their flocks drink.” Set in a county market (“there are goats, oxen, calves, dogs, and whatever else”), Zanotti assures us that Lo Spagnuolo returns to the Old Testament tale a number of times: he painted it for Aldrovandi (“with many figures”), for the Count Tardini (“no less beautiful, and well executed”), for the Archdeacon Malvezzi and for the Gateschi of Pistoia.

Fig. 8: Giuseppe Maria Crespi, Moses Defending the Daughters of Jethro. London, Matthiesen Gallery.