Jacopo Tintoretto
Moses Receives the Ten Commandments

Oil on canvas
Church of Madonna dell'Orto, Venice

The upper area of the painting is based on Exodus 24:12-18. Left and right of Moses, angels bear the two tablets of the Law, but he hardly notices them, exulting instead in the divine light that suffuses him as it emanates from "the glory of the Lord." Below him is the cloud that hides the glory from the Israelites.

Below the cloud is the continuation of the narrative in Exodus 32:1-6. In the text Aaron has the people gather their golden earrings for him to fashion into an idol in the form of a calf. In the painting they bring all sorts of jewelry to a calf made of some gray material. The pre-existent calf is probably the artist's way of adapting to pictorial form a statement in the Glossa Ordinaria (I, 828) that what Aaron did was simply to sketch a calf on a tablet and pass it to "the artificers" who then followed it in making the idol.

View enlarged details of the upper and lower areas of the painting.
Read more about images of Moses.

Source: this page at Wikimedia Commons.