In 1822, the London based engraver Edward Goodall was blessed with a newborn son, Frederik. At an early age, Frederik Goodall began to investigate his artistic inclinations and in 1835, as a thirteen-year-old, he launched his career at his father's studio. For the next two years, Goodall worked alongside his father; refining his drafting techniques and often benefiting from the flexibility that came from working in a family run studio. During these years at the studio, Frederik explored his interest in painting by executing sketches during his frequent visits to the London zoo. By the time Goodall turned fifteen, he was already involved in two drawing commissions. As time passed, it became increasingly clear that the ambitious Goodall would make painting his trade. In 1839, Goodall made his debut at the Royal Academy. A few years later, in 1867, he participated in the Exposition Universalle de Paris. As his reputation began to build, the artist's interests shifted and travel became a catalyst for new subjects. Among the countries that were most inspiring during his early career were Norway, France and Ireland. Finding that travel stimulated new subjects and techniques, Goodall ventured to Egypt, with contemporary watercolorist Carl Haag, during the winter of 1858-59. Profoundly moved by the subjects that he sketched and later made into paintings, Goodall visited the country a second time in 1870-71.
Just before the birth of Moses, Ramses II, the Pharaoh of Egypt, had ordered that all Hebrew male infants be put to death. To save her child, Moses's mother placed him in a basket made of papyrus and set it floating on the Nile River in the view of his sister, Miriam (see Exodus 2:4; Numbers 26:59). He was rescued by the daughter of Pharaoh, who brought the infant up as her own child. The Old Testament storyline of the finding of Moses functions as a bridge for Goodall, allowing him to bring together visual elements inspired by ancient Egyptian ruins and the highly fashionable element of the female nude.