Angelo Bronzino, The Crossing of the Red Sea

Palazzo Vecchio, Florence

The image is based on Exodus 14:10-31. Bronzino gives primary attention to the large figures of the Israelites safe on the shore, who watch half-interested or not at all while the Egyptians drown. In the center foreground a silver ewer and golden bowl represent the spoils they took with them from Egypt (Exodus 3:22).

On the right a seated Moses, wearing buskins and holding his rod while rays of light emanate from his forehead, discourses with a man in a domed hat and two blond youths. The grouping most likely corresponds to Exodus 18:7-9, in which, some time later, Moses recounts the passing of the Red Sea to his sons Gershom and Eliezer and his father-in-law Jethro.

One figure looks decidedly out of place, the man just to the right of center stands out with the only black hair and long black beard in the picture. With that characteristic beard, could he St. Paul, who memorialized this event in 1 Corinthians 10:1-2, "Our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea. And all in Moses were baptized, in the cloud, and in the sea"?

Read more about images of the crossing of the Red Sea.

Source: Web Gallery of Art via this page at Wikimedia Commons.