Moses and the Brazen Serpent

Cesare Ligari1740

Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana

Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana
Milano, Italy

On the back of the canvas we read that “Cesare Ligari son of Pietro painted this, in Venice, 1740”. The work was donated to the Ambrosiana by a descendant of theirs, Angelo Ligari. The painting shows the episode described in the Book of Numbers (Nm 21: 4-9): God sent poisonous serpents to punish the Israelites for their lamentations and, when Moses begged him to put an end to the massacre, the Lord ordered that a copper serpent should be raised up on a stake: all those who were bitten by a serpent would be saved if they looked at the effigy. In Christianity, the episode became an antitype of the Cross of Christ: just as one was saved by looking at the serpent, so one would obtain eternal life by looking at the Cross. This painting takes from a frieze painted in 1735 by Giambattista Tiepolo for the church of Santi Cosma e Damiano in the Giudecca, now in the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice.


  • Title: Moses and the Brazen Serpent
  • Creator: Cesare Ligari
  • Date Created: 1740
  • Physical Dimensions: 126 x 163 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil
  • Art Genre: Sacred art
  • Art Form: Painting
  • Support: Canvas

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