Attributed to



(Rome 1654 - 1715 Frascati)



Moses saved from the Waters


Oil on copper, 19 x 24.4 cm



The subject of our copper comes from the book of Exodus and depicts the discovery of Moses in the Nile River by the Egyptian princess.  The birth of Moses occurred at a time when Pharaoh had commanded all male children born to Hebrew slaves to be thrown into the river.  His mother, however, defied the draconian decree and hid her son for three months.  Once she could keep him under cover no longer, she placed him in a basket and set him among the reeds along the riverbank. 

Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the riverbank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her female slave to get it.  She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him.[1]

Pharoah’s daughter appropriately named the baby Moses, which comes from the Hebrew verb, Moshe, meaning to “draw out,” and raised him as her own in the Egyptian court.  Ricciolini portrays her crowned and in a red dress to differentiate her from the attendants.

Francesco Petrucci has tentatively attributed our copper to Michelangelo Ricciolini.[1]  Born in 1654, the Roman Baroque artist was the father of a family of painters, who contributed to the decoration of various palazzi throughout his native city, including the Palazzo della Cancelleria, commissioned by Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni (now lost), and Palazzo Spada.  In addition to the frescoes Ricciolini left behind at least twenty canvases, all religious in subject matter.  He was influenced, in particular, by his contemporary Carlo Maratta.


[1] Email, 6 August 2015.

[1] Exodus 2:5-6 (NIV)