The passage of the Red Sea
Frans Francken II & Ambrosius Francken
Antwerp 1581 – 1642 Antwerp & Antwerp ca 1590 – 1632 Antwerp
W x H
123 x 93cm
The rescued Israelites are camped on the shores of the Red Sea. They were about six hundred thousand men on foot, not counting the children who had fled the slavery of the Egyptians. Her God, in the apparition of a cloud of fire and water accompanied her, he had made her escape from Pharaoh's troops dry feet through the split sea. After passing through the sea, Moses, here on the right bank of the shore with the staff in his outstretched hand, caused the floods of water to fall upon the pursuers, the troops of the pharaoh. Moses was enlightened in the faith, but a false translation of this passage in the Old Testament spoke of 'horned' Moses and this interpretation was followed by artists over the centuries, including here Frans Francken II, the well-known Antwerp cabinet painter. Characteristic is his depiction of the crowd of small-figured staffage, as well as in the oeuvre of his younger brother Ambrosius Francken II. This painting is a result of their collaboration. Ambrosius painted the rocks and the wandering multitude of the Israelites and also the teenagers on the front monolithic rock. The camped Israelites, parallel to the lower edge of the picture are from the hand of Frans Francken II. Presumably it is Moses' older brother Aaron, leaning on his staff. He assisted Moses in the liberation of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery. The bright overall impression of many white-cracked colours creates a harmonious, idyllic atmosphere, which is supported by groups of resting, graceful young women with children. The painting is absolutely characteristic in the work of Frans Francken II, here with the help of his gifted, until now underrated brother Ambrosius Francken II. Certified by Dr. Ursula Härting, 2019