The golden calf, Arthur Boyd
  • Artist
    Arthur Boyd
  • Born
    1920
  • Died
    1999
  • Title
    The golden calf
  • Date of Production
    1946
  • Medium
    oil and tempera on composition board
  • Dimensions
    84 x 89 cm
  • Credit Details
    Purchased, Colin Hicks Caldwell Bequest Fund and the Ferry Foundation, 1995. © Reproduced with permission of the Bundanon Trust

Arthur Boyd

The golden calf

Arthur Boyd, who grew up in Victoria in a family rich in artistic tradition, turned to painting religious imagery from 1947 to the mid 50s.  Derived from Exodus 32: 1-6 where Moses' brother Aaron constructs a figure of a calf to satisfy the peoples' desire to worship something visible and tangible, The Golden Calf shows Moses asleep on the top of the mountain unaware of the chaotic scene unfolding below, and yet to hear the sound of God's anger.

Influenced by the graphic and sometimes grotesque images portrayed in a large illustrated bible which had been read to him  when he was a child, The Golden Calf is one of a series of paintings by Boyd in response to his feelings about events in Europe during World War II. Set in the Australian landscape, this crowded composition with its glossy sheen and rich colours has been painted in tempera, a mixture of powdered pigments and fresh egg yolk also reflects his fascination with the works of Breughel that he had studied from reproductions in the State Library of Victoria during 1945-46.