The Golden Calf, painting by Arthur Boyd
The Golden Calf, painting by Arthur Boyd.
1946, oil and tempera on composition board, 84 x 89cm. Art Gallery of Ballarat Collection. Purchased with funds from the Colin Hicks Caldwell Bequest and the Ferry Foundation, 1995.
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Arthur Boyd re-imagines the Biblical story of the golden calf in an Australian landscape, transposing the scene to his own surroundings in the tradition of the Netherlandish master Pieter Brueghel, whose work he knew through reproductions. This painting is also an example of Boyd’s experiments with tempera, the medium of the Old Masters.
Boyd’s interpretation shows the Israelites, with the golden calf made by Moses’ brother Aaron, at the foot of Mount Sinai, while Moses sleeps at the top of the mountain, unaware of the events taking place. The Golden Calf forms part of Boyd’s response to the events of WW2.