The Death of Moses. Artist: Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld. Engraver: Unknown. Source: Die Bibel in Bildern, Plate 65. Click on image to enlarge it.

So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD. And he buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Bethpeor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day. And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated. [Deuteronomy 34: 5-7; King James Bible]

The Pisgah Sight, the immediately previous illustration in The Boble in Pictures, mixes reward and punishment, since God permits Moses to see the promised land but does not permit him to enter it himself. The scene of Moses observing the land promised to the Israelites is a common subject in religious poetry and hymns, but representations of it in the visual arts are quite uncommon, in part because (as Schnorr’s plate demonstrates) it is a very difficult subject. Without the presence of God in the picture, it looks very much like nothing more than a man viewing a prospect from a height, but attempting to depict God often proves disastrous. Schnorr’s attempt here to represent the death of Moses does not succeed much better, for it does not illustrate the biblical text. First of all, we encounter not the death of Moses but the dead Moses, Second, Schnorr adds the heroic angel (dressed like many of Schnorr’s figures in quasi-Roman armor) fending off a devil. The angel is fairly well done, but it is not in the Bible.

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You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the Hathi Digital Trust Library and the Columbia University Library and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one. —George P. Landow.


Die Bibel in Bildern [Picture Bible] von Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld. Leipzig: Georg Wigands, 1860. Hathi Digital Trust Library online version of a copy in the Columbia University Library. Web. 25 June 2016.

Last modified 25 June 2016