Photo by John Neitzel

Moses in his Mother’s arms was painted by the British artist Simeon Solomon (1840–1905).

Miriam stands with her mother—sharing love for the infant Moses and pain at their anticipated separation from him, just as she stands ready with the basket to help save his life. Mother and daughter focus their gaze on Moses, as their hands express the loving bonds between them.

Long relegated in biblical tradition to a supporting role in the Exodus drama, Miriam was in fact a starring player. A careful reading of the biblical text reveals Miriam as a mediator, a prophet and a leader of her people who for a time probably shared power equally with her two brothers, Moses and Aaron.

Like other British artists of his day, Solomon sought to give his religious paintings authenticity of time and place. In so doing, he made a sharp break with Renaissance and Baroque traditions that clothed 16th- or 17th-century European models in European dress and arrayed them against European landscapes.

Published here for the first time in color, “Moses in His Mother’s Arms” belongs to a private collector in New York City.