Chosen by Chosen by Penny & Lindi, Museum volunteers

About the object

This painting explores the early life of Moses. Here we see Moses as a young boy. He has been cared for by a wet nurse since he was a baby and in this scene he is returned to his adopted mother, Pharaoh’s daughter. What Pharoah’s daughter does not know is that the wet nurse is actually Moses’ birth mother. This is why she weeps as she has to hand her son back. The two servants in the background, who know her true identity, are gossiping about the situation.

About the artist

William Hogarth was one of the most important English artists of the eighteenth century. He was a Governor of the Foundling Hospital and one of the charity’s most influential supporters. Hogarth took his involvement with the Foundling Hospital very seriously: he and his wife Jane fostered Foundling children. This painting is one of two artworks that Hogarth gave to the Foundling Hospital. In 1740 he donated his celebrated portrait of Thomas Coram. Then in 1747 Hogarth presented this Biblical scene. A third painting of his, The March of the Guards to Finchley, was won by the Hospital in a lottery organised by Hogarth in 1750.