(1644 Sotteville-lès-Rouen – Paris 1717)
Moses Hidden in the Bullrushes
Oil on canvas
Executed circa 1680-1690
Perhaps from the collection of Jean de Julienne, through the sale after his death, 30 March -22 May 1767, no. 234 , acquired by Prince Dimitri Alexeïevitch Galitzine (1738-1803), for 440 livres; Galerie Heim, Paris; Allen Field Collection, Houston, since 1963 (label on stretcher)
Possibly (see discussion below) Jean-Baptiste de Montullé, “Catalogue des tableaux de Jean de Julienne”, Paris, 1756, no. 86 (27 inches high by 35 wide, which corresponds to 73,1 x 94,7 cm); Anthony Blunt, Revue de l’Art, no. 9, 1970, p.30, no. 18, illustrated p.34; “Parcours d’un collectionneur, L’histoire, la fable et le portrait, Exposition du Musée de l’Ile-de-France”, Sceaux, 2007, catalogue p.54 , reproduced fig. 5a; Karen Chastagnol « Nicolas Colombel », catalogue of the exhibition, musée des Beaux-Arts de Rouen, 2012-2013, P.2, pp.121-122, illustrated.
For more information on our painting, the very thorough entry on Colombel by Karen Chastagnol in the exhibition catalogue for “Parcours d’un collectionneur, L’histoire, la fable et le portrait” should be consulted. In it, this Colombel specialist studies another version, this one signed, in the Milgrom Collection in Sceaux which she compares to ours—once believed to have been lost and known only through its presence in the article by Anthony Blunt, in 1963. It was, in fact, in a private collection in Texas at the time.
The restoration of the painting allowed us to discover numerous small areas of repainting. Thanks to them, today we have a more exact vision of the changes made by Colombel during the painting of the work. These are particularly appreciable in Moses’ leg, his father’s face, details of the hands, and in the architecture. Each of these changes is faithfully integrated into the Milgrom version, permitting us to see it as a signed replica of our.
As indicated by Karen Chastagnol in her entry, the influence of Moses by Poussin, today in the Ashmolean Museum of Oxford, was truly decisive for this work, even if we know nothing of how Colombel came in contact with this composition.
We wish to thank Madame Karen Chastagnol for confirming the attribution of our painting, which she has asked us to loan for the Colombel exhibition which will take place in the near future at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Rouen.