The Adoration of the Golden Calf – Poussin (c. 1634)
Illustrates episodes from Exodus 32 in the Old Testament:
1And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.
2And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me.
3And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron.
4And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
5And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To morrow is a feast to the LORD.
6And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.
In the background on the left Moses and Joshua come down from Mount Sinai with the tablets of the Ten Commandments. Hearing singing and seeing ‘the calf and the dancing…Moses’ anger waxed hot, and he cast the tablets out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount.’ The tall bearded figure in white is Aaron still ‘making proclamation’ of a feast to the false god.