Moses in Mexico

It is good to see Cristobal de Villalpando’s huge altarpiece at the Met placed at the very center of the Robert Lehman wing, where it can be admired from two levels, top-lit by daylight. At just over twenty-eight feet high by fourteen feet wide, it benefits from isolation, both from the objects in the Lehman collection and from the small selection of lesser works by Villalpando exhibited in their own gallery nearby. The lower half of the crowded composition depicts Moses raising the Brazen Serpent; the upper, the Transfiguration of Jesus. What we are not shown is the way it is displayed in its permanent Mexican home (for which it was painted) in Puebla cathedral.

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