Art Resource/Vatican City

Pulled from the water, a robust baby Moses bathes both in the light of the sun and in the joy of his rescuers.

Moses’ mother had set her son in a basket on the Nile to avoid Pharaoh’s decree—that all newborn male Hebrews be slain. According to two post-biblical Jewish sources, by these murders Pharaoh sought to avoid the ascendance of Moses, prophesied in a dream.

This episode in the Moses story has a clear parallel in the Book of Matthew, in which Herod attempts to avoid a prophesied usurper by ordering all boys aged two and under killed.

While her maidservants dry the child and the basket he had floated in, the jubilant daughter of Pharaoh pauses to explain her precious discovery to a curious crowd. The luminous painting, “Moses Saved from the Water,” by Italian Impressionist Armando Spadini (1883–1925) shows the influence of leading French Impressionist Pierre Auguste Renior.