Joshua Shaw (American (born England), Bellingborough, Lincolnshire 1776–1861 Bordentown, New Jersey)
Washington Allston (American, Georgetown, South Carolina 1779–1843 Cambridgeport, Massachusetts)
Oil on canvas
48 1/4 x 66 in. (122.6 x 167.6 cm)
Gift of William Merritt Chase, 1909
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 774
Representations of the Flood, described in Genesis as the overwhelming punishment for humanity’s flagrant sins, go back to the early Renaissance. In Shaw’s day, J. M. W. Turner and Benjamin West also painted this subject. In the Museum’s terrifying depiction of the darkness and desolation, painted about 1813, Shaw is indebted to West’s treatment of the theme, adopting for the foreground of his own painting West’s uprooted tree, which lies diagonally on the earth, surrounded by the ghastly bodies of the drowned, and festooned with the limp carcass of a gigantic snake. West seems not to have minded Shaw’s borrowing and wrote to him in high praise of this powerfully romantic and emotional picture. Joshua Shaw was an English artist who was forty when he came to this country, four years after painting "The Deluge". He had been well trained and enjoyed considerable success in the field of landscape painting.
Mrs. W. W. Lawton, Charleston, South Carolina; sale, Fifth Avenue Art Galleries, New York, 1909; William Merritt Chase, New York, 1909