Collection: Moses and Messengers from Canaan
ARTIST: Museum Religious Art Classics
Artist: Giovanni Lanfranco – c. 1621 – 1624
Giovanni Lanfranco conceived this painting as part of a series executed for the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament in the Basilica of San Paolo fuori le Mura (Saint Paul Outside the Walls) in Rome. Lanfranco depicts the imposing figures as if seen from below, imbuing them with a sense of monumentality and facilitating the painting’s placement high on the chapel walls.
In the Old Testament (Numbers 13:1–27), Moses sent spies to Canaan—the Promised Land—to determine whether the land bore fruit. Lanfranco depicted these spies as they returned, laden with grapes, pomegranates, and figs as signs of the bounty of Canaan. Laying the ample harvest at Moses' feet, they reported, “surely it floweth with milk and honey.” In Catholic theology, the plentiful grapes of the Promised Land prefigured the wine of Communion, making it an appropriate subject for the large Sacrament Chapel.
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