Pure landscape painting was not regarded as sufficiently serious in the seventeenth century, so narrative elements were added to the picture to give it a biblical, mythological, or historical subject. While the Finding of Moses is represented in the painting, the true subject is the powerful landscape itself. Rosa's landscape paintings were quite popular in late eighteenth-century England. His depiction of nature, balancing direct observation with the classical tradition of harmony and order, reflected the English sensitivity to nature.
Artist Salvator Rosa, Italian, 1615-1673
  • The Finding of Moses
Date ca. between 1660 and 1665
Medium oil on canvas
Dimensions Unframed: 48 1/2 × 79 3/4 inches (123.2 × 202.6 cm)
Framed: 62 × 92 3/8 × 4 1/2 inches (157.5 × 234.6 × 11.4 cm)
Credit Line Founders Society Purchase with funds from Mr. and Mrs. Edgar B. Whitcomb
Accession Number 47.92
Department European Painting
On View European: Grand Tour of Italy-Rome, Level 2 (see map)
commissioned by Prince (Don) Lorenzo Onofrio Colonna, Grand Constable of Naples;
Prince Lorenzo Onofrio Colonna (Palazzo Colonna, Rome, Italy);
until 1798-1799, Colonna family (Palazzo Colonna, Rome, Italy);
1798-1799, acquired by (William Young Ottley, London, England);
May 16, 1801, sold by (Christie's, London, England) lot 39;
1801, purchased by 3rd Earl Temple, later the Marquess of Buckingham, possibly through Orleans Gallery [for 1500 guineas] (Stowe House, Buckinghamshire, England);
by 1824, by inheritance to his son, 1st Duke of Buckingham and Chandos (Stowe House, Buckinghamshire, England);
September 12, 1848, sold at Stowe House (Buckinghamshire, England) lot 436;
1848, purchased by Mr. Farrar;
Lord Dudley [Earl of Dudley, the former Lord Ward, created 1st Earl of Dudley in February 1860];
June 25, 1892, sold by (Christie's, London, England) lot 85 [for 450 guineas];
1892, purchased by F.E. Goodhart (Chicago, Illinois, USA);
by inheritance to his father-in-law, Mr. Leander J. McCormick (Chicago, Illinois, USA);
1933-1945, by inheritance to his grandson, Mr. Leander McCormick-Goodhart (Langley Park, Silver Spring, Maryland, USA);
1947, (Durlacher Brothers, New York, New York, USA);
purchased by Mr. & Mrs. Edgar B. Whitcomb (Detroit, Michigan, USA);
1947-present, gift to the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)
Catalogo dei quadri, e pitture esistenti nel palazzo dell' eccellentissima casa Colonna in Roma. Rome, 1783, p. 26, no. 155.

A Catalogue of the Superb, Capital, and truly Valuable Collection of Celebrated Italian Pictures, Lately Purchased from Colonna, Borghese, and Corsini Palaces, &c. by William Young Ottley, Esq. Sales cat., Christie, Manson & Woods, London, May 16, 1801, p. 8, no. 39. [annotation, "1627..10..0, Baron Woolf."]

Ottley, William Young. The Italian School of Design: Being a Series of Fac-Similes of Original Drawings by the Most Eminent Painters and Sculptors of Italy. London, 1823, p. 71, note.

Buchanan, W. Memoirs of Painting, with a Chronological History of the Importation of Pictures by the Great Masters into England since the French Revolution. London, 1824, vol. 2, pp. 20, 27, no. 39. [as in the collection of W. Young Ottley]

Morgan, Lady. The Life and Times of Salvator Rosa. London, 1824, vol. 2: p. 108.

Baldinucci, Filippo. Notizie dei Professori del Disegno da Cimabue in Quà. Florence, 1847, vol. 5: p. 484.

Forster, Henry Rumsey. The Stowe Catalogue, Price and Annotated. London, 1848, p. 195, no. 436.

Catalogue of the Art Treasures of the United Kingdom Collected at Manchester in 1857. Exh. cat, City of Manchester. Manchester, 1857, p. 57, no. 757. [as “Landscape” in the list, “Paintings by Ancient Masters” lent by Lord Ward]

Catalogue of the Highly Important Gallery of Pictures of the Late Rt. Hon. Earl of Dudley. Sales cat., Christie, Manson & Woods. London, June 25, 1892, p. 30, lot 85.

Graves, Algernon. Art Sales from Early in the Eighteenth Century to Early in the Twentieth Century. London, 1921, vol. 3, pp. 100–101.

Grigaut, Paul L. “‘The Finding of Moses’ by Salvator Rosa." Art Quarterly 11, no. 2 (Spring 1948): 176–177, pp. 170, 176–177 (ill.).

Grigaut, Paul L. "The Finding of Moses by Salvator Rosa." Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts 27, no. 3 (1948): 63–67, pp. 63–67 (ill.).

A Loan Exhibition of Paintings by Salvator Rosa, 1615–1673. Exh. cat., Durlacher Brothers. New York, 1948, unpaginated, cat. 19.

Exhibition of Italian Paintings of the 17th Century. Exh. cat., Allen Memorial Art Museum. Oberlin, 1952, vol. 9, no. 2.

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Ogden, Henry V. S. and Margaret S. Ogden. English Taste in Landscape in the Seventeenth Century. Ann Arbor, 1955, pp. 142, 149, 203 (ill.).

Wittkower, Rudolf. Art and Architecture in Italy, 1600 to 1750. Baltimore, 1958, p. 216, fig. 122B (ill.). [see 1980 edition, p. 326, fig. 211]

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Art in Italy, 1600–1700. Exh. cat., Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, 1965, pp. 139–140, no. 154 (ill.).

Treasures from the Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, 1966, p. 100 (ill.).

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Fredericksen, Burton B. and Federico Zeri. Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections. Cambridge, MA, 1972, p. 177, 258, 580.

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Salvator Rosa. Exh. cat., Hayward Gallery. London, 1973, pp. 32–33, no. 35, pp. 45–46. [dated ca. 1660]

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Important Old Master Drawings, Part 1. Sales cat., Christie's. London, April 7, 1981, pp. 36–37. [see lot 75]

Hilaire, M. "Le Paysage francais sous l'influence de Poussin et de Salvator Rosa." L'Object d'Art, no. 288 (February 1995): p. 63, pp. 54-55 (ill.).

Scott, J. Salvator Rosa his Life and Times. New Haven, 1995, pp. 137-138, pl. 137.

Muti, L. and de Sarno Prignano, D. Antonio Francesco Peruzzini. Faenza, 1996, pp. 57-59, figs. 18–19 (ill.).

Guratzsch, Herwig, ed. Salvator Rosa, genie der zeichnung: studien und skizzen aus Leipzig und Haarlem. Exh. cat., Museum der bildenden Künste Leipzig. Leipzig, 1999, pp. 24–25 (ill.), 242.

Wissman, Fronia E. European Vistas: Cultural Landscapes. Exh. cat., Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, 2000, pp. 21–22 (ill.).

Gozzano, Natalia. La quadreria di Lorenzo Onofrio Colonna: Prestigio nobiliare e collezionismo nella Roma barocca. Rome, 2004, p. 218.

Bissell, R. Ward, Andria Derstine and Dwight Miller. Masters of Italian Baroque Painting: The Detroit Institute of Arts. London, 2005, pp. 9–10, 174–177, no. 57 (ill.).

Salvator Rosa: Tra mito e magia. Exh. cat., Museo di Capodimonte. Naples, 2008, pp. 50–51 (ill.).

Langdon, Helen. "Landscapes." In Salvator Rosa. London, 2010, pp. 134–135 (ill.).

Volpi, Caterina. Salvator Rosa (1615–1673) "Pittore Famoso." Rome, 2014, pp. 315, 350, 462, 523, 538–539, no. 242 (ill.); pp. 541, 552, 577, 623.

Derstine, Andria. "The Detroit Institute of Arts and Italian Baroque Painting." In Buying Baroque: Italian Seventeenth-Century Paintings Come to America, ed. Edgar Peters Bowron. University Park, 2017, p. 97.