Moses at the Burning Bush

Moses at the Burning Bush

Acrylic on canvas, 10”x8”

This is a based on a sketch made by Rembrandt, seen here. Because the original is only a sketch, it’s hard to know exactly what he intended everything to be. It seemed to me that the burning bush was intended to be placed somewhere off the left edge of the canvas, so that what we see is Moses’s reaction to seeing it and wondering what it was. The real trees of the area were probably not as large and lush as what Rembrandt drew, but I went ahead and worked from his sketch as it was drawn. I rarely paint in acrylic and I think it’s been at least 10 years since I’ve painted a person. My version is also only a sketch, using only burnt sienna and white, but I added a little more shading than Rembrandt’s version.

This scene comes from the Bible, the book of Exodus, chapter 3. The situation was that Moses was living in the land of Midian east of Egypt as a shepherd. Moses left Egypt when he was 40 years old and was a shepherd for another 40 years, making him 80 when this scene occurs. As he was leading his flock he came to a mountain called Horeb, which is also called Sinai, and is known as “the mountain of God.”

“And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I. And He said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. Moreover He said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.” (Exodus 3:2-6)

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