This picture, one of Colonia's finest works, depicts the rare subject of Noah and his family leaving the Ark. Most other artists have chosen to depict Noah and his family entering the Ark. To the left of Noah is his wife. In the centre are Noah's three sons (Ham, Shem and Japheth) and one of their wives. A procession of animals is still leaving the Ark in the distance. Most prominent – and amusing – are the pairs of animals and birds that fill the foreground, cackling, preening and giving vent to sighs and smiles of relief after their ordeal of forty days afloat. Why do some of the animals look strange? The animals which Colonia was more familiar with (i.e. domestic animals such as ducks, geese, swans and cattle) are depicted in the foreground and with realistic detail. Those which he was unlikely to have seen in real life such as elephants, camels, leopards and lions were probably derived from book illustrations, and so are slightly peculiar.
Where to see this painting?
Bolton Museum and Art Gallery
Le Mans Crescent, Bolton, Greater Manchester, England, BL1 1SE
If you are planning a visit to see this painting, check with the collection first. Paintings can be moved at short notice.