Noah’s Ark

Like the creation story, there are two biblical flood stories.  In the first, Noah is instructed to gather two of each “kind” of animal (this is the popularized version – see Genesis 6:19,20).  In the second, he is instructed to gather seven of every kind of clean animal and bird (that being a number of perfection) and two of every kind of unclean animal – see Genesis 7:2,3.

There is a Chaldean story, from the area that is now Iraq, that is identical in most respects to one of our Genesis flood stories,  similar in other respects, and different in still others (as, how he knew to build the ark, its size and shape, the mountain where it landed and the birds that were sent out after it landed).  In the Chaldean story Ut-Napishtim is the Noah figure.

The first painting, below, is one of my favorite paintings of this subject.  We see Noah tending the animals at the front of the ark.  How chaotic! What a mess!  And that is before they got the animals into the ark and the window presumably closed, since Genesis 8:6 says that  after the rains stopped, the waters subsided, and Noah opened the window.

Front of Noah’s Ark GIOVANNI BENEDETTO CASTIGLIONE (1650)

See http://www.wga.hu/frames-e.html?/html/c/castigli/noahsark.html for the source of the photograph of the above painting.

Noah’s Ark on Mount Ararat HIERONYMIUS BOSCH (1450-1516)

See http://www.abcgallery.com/B/bosch/bosch48.html for the source of the photograph of the above painting.

I like the above painting both for its depiction of the ark’s precarious perch  on the peak of Mount Ararat and, I respect it for its realistic exploration of the horror inherent in the story of the deluge, as described in Genesis.  Bosch’s paintings have a certain earthiness as well as other-worldliness, whether delightful or horrifying, fantastic or nightmarish.  See the fanciful sensuality in the Garden of Earthly Delights, depicting life in the Garden of Eden at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Garden_of_Earthly_Delights , or his representation of the evil and grotesque aspects of life, as in Christ Carrying the Cross, http://www.abcgallery.com/B/bosch/bosch56.html .

For a biography of Bosch, see http://www.abcgallery.com/B/bosch/boschbio.html

Finally, we see the artistic expression of this story in an entirely different graphic medium: wool and silk on woolen warp, or tapestry:

God the Father Establishing His Covenant with Noah WILLEM DE PANNEMAKER

(1567)

See http://www.lib-art.com/artgallery/35216-god-the-father-establishing-his-covenant-with-noah-pannemaker-willem-de.html for the source of the photograph of the above painting.

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