Collection Online

The Crossing of the Red Sea
(c. 1597-1600)

oil on canvas
116.0 × 183.0 cm
inscribed in black paint l.c.r.: S. Vrancx . f.
Accession Number
International Painting
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased through The Art Foundation of Victoria with the assistance of the National Australia Bank Limited, Founder Benefactor, 1989
This digital record has been made available on NGV Collection Online through the generous support of Digitisation Champion Ms Carol Grigor through Metal Manufactures Limited
Gallery location
17th Century & Flemish Paintings Gallery
Level 2, NGV International

Private collection, Germany sale, Christie's, London, 11 December 1987, no. 35 with Chaucer Fine Arts (dealer), London, 1988–89 from where purchased for the NGV through the Art Foundation of Victoria, 1989.

The Old Testament Book of Exodus tells how the Israelites, led by Moses, journeyed out of captivity in Egypt to the Promised Land. Pursued by the Egyptians to the Red Sea, Moses miraculously parted the waters, allowing his people to cross safely. The waters then closed, drowning the Egyptians behind them. This theme had great significance in the Counter-Reformation period, when the basic tenets of Roman Catholicism were being reasserted in the face of Protestant reform. The contemporary punishment of religious heretics was equated with God’s destruction of Pharaoh and his armies, depicted here as Protestant Germans and Muslim Turks.