Noah: The Eve of the Deluge

Noah: The Eve of the Deluge


John Linnell

(British, 1792-1882)

Oil on canvas

Framed: 168.5 x 242.5 x 9.5 cm (66 5/16 x 95 1/2 x 3 3/4 in.); Unframed: 146 x 221 cm (57 1/2 x 87 in.)

Mr. and Mrs. William H. Marlatt Fund 1972.119


John Linnell presents a vision of the British landscape rich in spiritual and poetic associations. He draws on the biblical story of Noah's ark in which God orders Noah to build a ship to harbor his family and animals from the great flood. The English poet John Milton (1608–1674) also addressed the story in his epic poem Paradise Lost (1667), a passage from which Linnell included alongside his painting at the Royal Academy exhibition in 1848. The context for Linnell's picture may represent the debate at that time between theologians and scientists over the accuracy of biblical sources. Alternatively, the awe-inspiring theme, represented most clearly in Linnell's apocalyptic swirl of sky, was of longstanding interest to romantic painters and writers.

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