The Infant Moses
© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

Paris hosted the 1878 Exposition universelle, or world’s fair, to celebrate France’s recovery after the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. For the event, Gustave Moreau submitted a cycle of biblically themed paintings to reflect on the nation’s renewal. The series, which included this work as well as Jacob and the Angel (1874–78; also in Harvard’s collection) and David (1878), marked three stages of human life. Here Moreau celebrates the anticipation and promise associated with childhood: Moses, recognized by the rays emanating from his forehead, floats in his basket on the Nile, surrounded by the ruins of ancient Egypt. In a written commentary Moreau suggested the prophet’s enlightenment, noting the contrast between “this people of mummies, sphinxes, and gods with staring eyes and unmoving gaze” and “this fine human fruit full of sap and life.”

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Gustave Moreau, French (Paris 1826 - 1898 Paris)
The Infant Moses
Other Titles
Original Language Title: Moïse Exposé sur le Nil
Work Type
c. 1876-c. 1878
Level 2, Room 2130, European and American Art, 17th–19th century, The Pre–Raphaelites and Their Legacy
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Physical Descriptions
Oil on canvas
185 x 136.2 cm (72 13/16 x 53 5/8 in.)
framed: 202.6 x 153 x 9.8 cm (79 3/4 x 60 1/4 x 3 7/8 in.)
Gustave Moreau, 1878, sold; to Antoni Roux, 1893, sold [through his sale, Vente A. Roux at Galerie Georges Petit, 1914, no. 22]. Mme. de Saint Alary. Comte Roederer, Paris, sold; to Grenville Lindall Winthrop [through Martin Birnbaum], New York, NY, 1935, bequest; to Fogg Art Museum, 1943.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Bequest of Grenville L. Winthrop
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art
Publication History

Robert de Montesquiou, Un Peintre Lapidaire, Gustave Moreau, exh. cat. (Paris, France, 1906), preface, p. 20

Jean Laran and Léon Deshairs, Gustave Moreau, Librairie centrale des beaux-arts (Paris, France, 1913), pp. 78, 83-84, repr.

Pierre-Louis Mathieu, Gustave Moreau: with a catalogue of the finished paintings watercolors, and drawings, New York Graphic Society (Boston, MA, 1976), p. 130, catalog no. 172, p. 325; repr. in b/w p. 325, color detail p. 133

Edgar Peters Bowron, European Paintings Before 1900 in the Fogg Art Museum: A Summary Catalogue including Paintings in the Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1990), p. 79, color plate; pp. 121, 237, repr. b/w cat. no. 319

Pierre-Louis Mathieu, Tout l'oeuvre peint de Gustave Moreau, Flammarion (Paris, France, 1991), no. 198, p. 99-100, color plate XXV

Françoise Cachin, 1893, L'Europe des Peintres, exh. cat., Musée d'Orsay (Paris, France, 1993), repr. in b/w p. 182

"Gustave Moreau", Saber ver lo Contemporaneo del Arte (1993), no. 15, text p. 52; repr. in color p. 53

Gustave Moreau: Gyusutavu Moro, exh. cat., Nihon Hoso Kyokai (Tokyo, Japan, 1995), p. 130-131, repr. b/w

Geneviève Lacambre, Gustave Moreau: Maître Sorcier, Réunion des Musées Nationaux (Paris, France, 1997), pp. 58, 61, repr. p. 60

Pierre-Louis Mathieu, Gustave Moreau: Monographie et nouveau catalogue de l'oeuvre achevé, ACR Édition (Paris, France, 1998), no. 202, p. 337, repr; repr. in color p. 81

Geneviève Lacambre, Gustave Moreau: Magic and Symbols, Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (New York, NY, 1999), pp. 58, 61, repr. p. 60

Geneviève Lacambre, Gustave Moreau: between Epic and Dream, exh. cat., The Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, IL, 1999), p. 288

Shelly Durrell, Healing the Fisher King: Spiritual Lessons with Parzival, Gump, The Grail, Tao and Star Wars, Art Tao Press (Miami, Florida, 2002), ill. p. 340

Chikashi Kitazaki, ed., Between Reality and Dreams: Nineteenth Century British and French Art from the Winthrop Collection of the Fogg Art Museum, exh. cat., National Museum of Western Art (Ueno, Japan, 2002), p. 29, repr. as fig. 18

Stephan Wolohojian, Ingres, Burne-Jones, Whistler, Renoir... La Collection Grenville L. Winthrop, exh. cat., Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon and Réunion des Musées Nationaux (Paris, France, 2003), repr. in color p. 40, as fig. 29

Stephan Wolohojian, ed., A Private Passion: 19th-Century Paintings and Drawings from the Grenville L. Winthrop Collection, Harvard University, exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Yale University Press (New York, NY, 2003), repr. in color p. 32, as fig. 30

Paysages de Rêve de Gustave Moreau, exh. cat., Artlys (Versailles, France, 2004), pp. 32-34, repr. as ill. 16

Peter Cooke, "Pour une Théorie de la Nature et du Paysage chez Gustave Moreau", exh. cat., Editions Artlys (Versailles, France, 2004), pp. 32-35, repr. in color as ill. 16

Professor Nobuyuki Senzoku, How to Look at Fantastic Arts, Tokyo-Bijutsu Inc. (Tokyo, Japan, 2004), pp. 46-47, repr. in color

Stephan Wolohojian, ed., Harvard Art Museum/ Handbook, Harvard Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 2008), p. 174, rep.

Peter Cooke, Gustave Moreau: History Painting, Spirituality and Symbolism, Yale University Press (New Haven and London, 2014), pp. 96, 97, 101, repr. p. 100 as fig. 59, repr. p. 70 (detail)

Léonce Bénédite, "Deux Idealistes: Gustave Moreau et Edward Burne-Jones", La Revue de l'Art Ancien et Moderne (April - June 1910), repr. p. 67

Narayan Khandekar and Stephan Wolohojian, "Gustave Moreau's 'Jacob and the Angel' Re-examined", The Burlington Magazine (April 2005), vol. CXLVII, no. 1225, pp. 253-257, p. 253, repr. in color

Lee Sheridan, "'French Symbolist Art' Timely Museum Exhibit", Springfield Daily News (February 1973)

Paul Flat, "Gustave Moreau", La Revue de l'Art Ancien et Moderne (January 10 - March 10, 1898), p. 231-244, p. 45, repr.

A. Roux Sale, auct. cat., Galerie Georges Petit (Paris, France, May 19, 1914 - May 20, 1914), no. 22

Dominique Lobstein, "Anthony Roux: Portrait d'un Collectionneur et Mécène", Dossier de l'Art (October 1998), no. 51, repr. in color p. 21

Exhibition History

Exposition Universelle, 1878, [Unknown venue, Paris], 05/01/1878 - 10/31/1878

Moreau and Monticelli, Busch-Reisinger Museum, Cambridge, 05/13/1960 - 06/08/1960

Pre-Raphaelite and Early French Symbolist Art in the Fogg Collections, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 01/16/1973 - 02/25/1973

For Students of Art and Lovers of Beauty: Highlights from the Collection of Grenville L. Winthrop, Harvard University Art Museums, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 04/16/2004

32Q: 2130 19th Century, Harvard Art Museums, 11/01/2014

Subjects and Contexts

Collection Highlights

Google Art Project

Verification Level

4 - Best. Object is extensively researched, well described and information is vetted