The Trials of Moses fresco by Botticelli at the age of 36

made out of from 1481 to 1482

348.5 x 558 cms (137 x 2191/2 ins)

The Sistine Chapel the Vatican City, Italy, Europe, Rome

The fresco shows several episodes of Moses' youth, taken from Exodus. It parallels the fresco on the opposite wall, also by Botticelli, which depicts the Temptations of Jesus. The frieze has the inscription TEMPTATIO MOISI LEGIS SCRIPTAE LATORIS.

On the right is Moses killing the Egyptian who had harassed a Hebrew, and fleeing to the desert (a parallel with the episode of Jesus defeating the Devil). In the next episode Moses fights the shepherds who were preventing Jethro's daughters (including his future wife, Zipporah) to water their cattle at the pit, and then takes the water for them. In the third scene, in the upper left corner, Moses removes his shoes and then receives from God the task to return to Egypt and free his people. Finally, in the lower left corner, he drives the Jews to the Promised Land.

Moses is always distinguishable in the scenes by his yellow dress and the green cloak.


Art from the same year

Art by artists at the same age


After a bitter struggle for the duchy of Milan with the child-regent Gian Galeazzo Sforza's mother, Bona of Savoy, followed, the boy's uncle, Ludovico Sforza, emerges as victor and seizes control of the government of Milan.
Draft of a letter from Leonardo da Vinci to Ludovico Sforza: > Your Gracious Highness! I have sufficiently seen and tested the productions of all who are considered masters of the art of inventing war-machines. And since the working and function of these instruments is no different from that of the machines in common use, I shall endeavour -- approaching no one else -- to make myself clear to Your Excellency and reveal my secrets. I shall put them at your disposal whenever you desire and hope for good results from the things which I shall now briefly describe ... > > First: I have a means of making very light bridges which can be very easily transported ... And I have others which are proof against fire and are thus indestructible in battle, easy to take down and put up again, and I also know of a means to get fire to the bridges of the enemy and destroy them. Secondly: In besieging a place I know how to cut off the water in the dikes, also how to construct many drawbridges and other apparatus necessary for such an undertaking. Thirdly: If during a siege the engines cannot be effectively used on account of the height or strength of the town wall, I have a means to destroy every tower or fortification ... Fourthly: I know of a kind of siege-engine which is very light and easy to move and which can be used hurl fire-bombs. Their smoke will terrify, confuse and severely injure the enemy. Fifthly: I know how to construct subterranean caves and winding passages which can be made without any noise ... Sixthly: I can make sound, indestructible armoured vehicles. If these reach the enemy with their cannons, they can compel the largest forces to retreat and afterwards the infantry can follow them in safety and without any let or hindrance. Seventhly: I can make, if necessary, bombards, mortars and other field-guns ... Eighthly: Where cannons cannot be used I shall construct stone-throwing machines, catapults, slings and other instruments, amazing and hitherto completely unknown ... Ninthly: If this should be necessary, I know of apparatus for use at sea for attack and defence, such as ships which can withstand the force of the strongest opponents and produce dust and smoke. > In time of peace I believe I can achieve something in architecture, as well as another, both in building public and private buildings and in channelling water from one place to another. Further, I work as a sculptor in marble, bronze and clay and can paint as well as others with whom I may be compared. I could also add my labours to the bronze horse which is to contribute to the undying fame and eternal memory of your father and the renowned house of Sforza ... >

January 11

Two more ambassadors were appointed to go to Rome: Messer Guido Antonio Vespucci and Pierfilippo Pandolfini.

January 12

Antonio Pucci being _Gonfaloniere_, carried through the vote for a _balzello_ (a special tax) of 39,000 florins; and had it levied, making it arbitrary.

February 6

There was an earthquake (in Florence) at about half-past 4 (12.30 at night), but not a very severe one.


Leonardo da Vinci receives a commission to paint The Adoration of the Magi for the Monks of San Donato a Scopeto, which he leaves unfinished.

March 31

The fortresses of Colle, Poggibonizi, Monte a Sansovino, and Poggio Imperiale were restituted to us, together with other places, except the Castellina, Montedomenici, Piancaldoli, and Sarzana. The plague was now decreasing.

April 13

The Pope sent us an Indulgence, to be obtained by attending six churches: Santa Maria del Fiore, the Nunziata dei Servi, Santa Croce, Santa Maria Novella, Santo Spirito, and Sa' Jacopo in Campo Corbolini.(1) And it began on this day and lasted till Easter. Everyone who wished to obtain it had to visit these six churches on three mornings, confessing and doing penance; and had to lend aid, at the said churches, to the forces sent against the Turks. > (1) This church, which was founded in the year 1000, is preceded by a little peristyle closed by wooden gates, as the church is no longer in use. On the capitals of the columns are the arms of the Alberti. In 1206 it passed into the possession of the Knights of Jerusalem, and a good many of their tombs are in the interior. It stands in the _Via Faenza_, and must not be confounded with either of the two other churches of the same name: San Jacopo tra Fosse, and San Jacopo in Borgo San Jacopo. (Trans.)

May 28

We heard that the Turkish sultan was dead; but nevertheless the Christians did not yet make a move.

June 2

One of the Frescobaldi, and one of the Baldovinetti, and one of the Balducci, were arrested; and on the 6th June they were hung from the windows of the Bargello, or rather, of the _Casa del Capitano_, having confessed that they had intended to murder Lorenzo de' Medici.

June 8

The _Porta a Faenza_(1) was closed, because the plague was very bad outside this gate, and was in three or four houses in Florence. > (1) This gate, which was on the _Prato_, was demolished when the Fortezza di Basso was built, or rather, it was built into the keep of the fort. (Trans.)

August 4

Twelve men were appointed, and given powers to act for the whole people of Florence. The first thing they did was to decree that whoever owed the commune anything should pay three florins interest on each florin lent.

August 22

We apothecaries arranged that we should not keep our shops open on holidays till 22 in the evening (6 p.m.), as had hitherto been the custom, but that four shops in the whole city (to be chosen by lot) should remain open all day.(1) This day it snowed in the mountains of Pistoia. > (1) With regard to this custom, I am pleased to add that on the 15th October, 1547, a decree was published by the Otto di Guardia e di Balia (the Eight), on the observance of the fetes, forbidding any work to be done on these days, and the shops to keep open, with certain exceptions, amongst which is the following: "And four apothecaries' shops, to be drawn by lot among the _Arte_ (Guild), may remain open all day; the others may sell from 21 in the evening onwards" (5 p.m.).

September 10

Lorenzo de' Medici married one of his daughters to Jacopo Salviati.

September 18

We heard that Otranto had been regained. There were rejoicings, bonfires, etc.

October 2

Signor Gostanzo di Pesaro(1) arrived in Florence, with a fine troop of men-at-arms, and several squadrons of crossbowmen on horseback, being on his way to Milan. > (1) A Florentine captain, to whom the baton of _Capitano generale_ was given two days later.

October 8

My brother Gostanzo won the Palio at Santa Liperata, and this was the first that he had won with his horse called "_il Draghetto_" (the Little Dragon). He had bought two horses from Barbary: one called "_il Pelligrino_" (the Pilgrim) he sold to the Count of Urbino, getting 100 ducats for it. The prisoners of the Stinche escaped. They opened the doors with the keys given them by one of the warders, called Domenico di Cristofano. They got out at about 7 in the night (3 a.m.), the warder also escaping.

November 30

The tax called the Scala(1) was collected. > (1) Probably the _Decima scalata_; see note to 13th June, 1478.

December 26

My brother Gostanzo won the _Palio_ of Prato with his horse _Draghetto_.
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