The Evening of the Deluge
Pair to ‘Light and Colour (Goethe’s Theory), The Morning after the Deluge – Moses writing the Book of Genesis’. In these companion pictures, Turner opposes cool and warm colours, and their contrasting emotional associations, as described by Goethe in his ‘Farbenlehre’ (Theory of Colours). Turner has chosen the biblical Deluge as the vehicle for these ideas, returning to the Historical Sublime he had mastered in some of his earliest exhibition pictures.
The Morning after the Deluge – Moses Writing the Book of Genesis
Pair to ‘Shade and Darkness – The Evening of the Deluge’. This triumphant explosion of light brilliantly exploits the warm side of the spectrum. It celebrates God’s Covenant with Man after the Flood. The serpent in the centre represents the brazen serpent raised by Moses in the wilderness as a cure for plague. Here it symbolises Christ’s redemption of Man in the New Covenant. Turner’s verses rather undermine the optimism of the religious message by emphasising the transience of the natural phenomena engendered by the ‘returning sun’.
The Angel Standing in the Sun
This painting, from late in Turner’s career, shows scenes from the Old Testament, the first section of the Bible. In the centre, Archangel Michael appears with his flaming sword. In the foreground are scenes of murder and betrayal. Adam and Eve cry over the body of their son Abel (left), murdered by his brother, and Judith stands over the headless body of Holofernes (right), who she has decapitated.
Turner’s pessimistic picture seems to show death is everywhere. It has been suggested this reflects his concern about how his own life and art would be judged. In a message to his critics, he exhibited the picture with the words, ‘the feast of vultures when the day is done.’
Lil’Stones has a license to print these three Turners across three x 75mm or on single 75mm Lil’Stones during the ACMI exhibition, Light: Works from Tate’s Collection, running from the 16th of June to the 19th of November 2022.