FRAMED DIMENSIONS:91 x 115 cm. (35 2/3 x 45 1/4 in.)
PROVENANCE:Possibly from the collection of Jean de Julienne (1686-1766), his posthumous sale on 30 March - 22 May 1767, no. 234, where acquired by Prince Dimitri Alexeïevitch Galitzine (1738-1803) for 440 livres; Galerie Heim, Paris; Allen Field Collection, Houston, from 1963 (label on stretcher).
Possibly Jean-Baptiste de Montullé, Catalogue des tableaux de Jean de Julienne, Paris, 1756, no. 86 (where described as 27 x 35″ [73.1 x 94.7 cm]);
Anthony Blunt, Revue de l’Art, no. 9, 1970, p. 30, no. 18, ill. p. 34;
Pierre Rosenberg (ed.), Parcours d’un collectionneur: l’histoire, la fable, le portrait, exh. cat., Musée de l’Ile-de-France, Sceaux, 2007, p. 54, ill. fig. 5a;
to be included in the catalogue raisonné of the artist’s work, in preparation by Karen Chastagnol.
FURTHER INFORMATION:The manuscript catalogue of Jean de Julienne's famous collection, drawn up in 1756, containing watercolour illustrations showing where the paintings were hung, attest to the presence, and location of this composition ('Catalogue des tableaux de Mr. de Julienne', 1756, 202 x 268 mm, Morgan Library, New York, pp. 51-52).
Despite numerous differences, it is impossible for us to know whether it was this painting, thought to be lost until recently, which was in Jean de Julienne's collection, or another version, slightly smaller and signed, from the Milgrom Collection in Sceaux (73.3 x 92 cm). The dimensions of the painting in Julienne's collection (27 x 35 inches, ie. 73.1 x 94.7 cm) do not exactly correspond to either of the two versions, the Milgrom canvas being slightly smaller, this one slightly larger.
The landscape on the left of this composition is several centimeters wider than on the Milgrom version, constituting the principal difference between the two canvases. The figures themselves are very similar in the two versions, however, recent restoration of this painting revealed numerous small areas of pentimenti, changes made by the artist during the process of painting. These are particularly noteworthy in Moses' leg, his father's face, details of the hands, and in the architecture. Each of these changes is faithfully integrated into the Milgrom version, allowing us to conclude that it is this painting which is the earlier version, and the one from the Milgrom collection is a signed repetition, painted after this one.