Johann König (1586-1642), The Brazen Serpent, year unknown

Johann König (1586-1642), The Brazen SerpentThe Brazen Serpent, year unknown. Oil on copper. 54 x 76 cm. KMSsp369.
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The scene depicts the Old Testament story of how God punished the Israelites for their impatience on their journey through the wilderness from Egypt to Canaan by setting venomous snakes upon them (Numbers 21:4-9). The Israelites repented, Moses prayed for them, and God took mercy upon them and told Moses to make a serpent of brass. All who had been bitten would be healed if they only looked upon the brass snake.

Typical aesthetics
Christianity often sees Moses as foreshadowing Christ, and in John 3:14-15 the story of the serpent is related directly to the crucifixion. Johann König accentuates this link by making the pole upon which the serpent is raised cross-shaped. The bright colours, shimmering silks and mannered poses of the figures are typical of the Mannerist aesthetics of the time.

Updated: 26.apr.2018
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