Historical information

This sculpture is a bronze cast of Karl Duldig’s 1956 terracotta sculpture titled 'Moses'. The terracotta sculpture won the 1956 Victorian Sculptor of the Year award, an honor given by the Victorian Society of Sculptors. The National Gallery of Victoria purchased the original terracotta sculpture for the Gallery’s collection in 1956. In 1979 the NGV allowed Karl to cast the original terracotta sculpture in bronze (to a limited edition of 5). The National Gallery of Victoria holds one of these casts and one is in Duldig Studio collection. The original terracotta sculpture was exhibited in 1956 at the Olympic Arts Exhibition in Wilson Hall at the University of Melbourne. Two other works by Karl were also exhibited, a sandstone titled 'Adam and Eve' and a work titled 'Fountain'. The catalogue for the Olympic exhibition, which promoted modernism across a variety of disciplines, noted that Australia’s post war immigration program had given ‘further momentum to the modernist cause’. The identification of émigré artists, such as Karl Duldig, with the acceptance of modernism in Australia became a major theme in any discussion of art and design in the post war period. Ann Carew 2016


The subject Moses and the tablets of law is an important theme in the history of art. For example the National Gallery of Victoria collection includes paintings on this topic by the Australian Aboriginal artist, Queenie McKenzie (1991), prints by the Russian-French modernist artist, Marc Chagall (1956), and a painting by 19th century British academic painter, John Rogers Herbert (1870s). Michelangelo’s sculpture of Moses is perhaps the most famous sculptural interpretation of the subject. In Karl’s hands we have a modern interpretation of the theme. His simplification and abstraction of form and attention to surface modeling is masterly. The figure has an emotional intensity and despite its relatively small scale, a ‘forceful monumentality’. The sculpture is aesthetically significant for its craftsmanship, expressive qualities and modernity. It is historically significant because of its associations with the 1956 Olympic Arts Festival. The Duldig Studio’s bronze cast of the sculpture was exhibited in the exhibition '1956: Melbourne, modernity and the XVI Olympiad, Museum of Modern Art at Heide.' Apart from the formal qualities of a work like Moses, its relevance as a motif in Judaism and Christian faiths ensures its place as a work of spiritual significance. Ann Carew 2016

Physical description

Bronze cast from terracotta sculpture. Depicts Moses as in Exodus 32 when he returns from Sinai with the tablets of the law to find his people worshipping the golden calf, in his fury he holds the tablets aloft above his head before crashing them down on the ground.