Mostaert, under the tutelage and influence of Antwerp's leading artists of the mid sixteenth century such as Frans Floris, Jan Mandyn and Herri met de Bles, developed a love for the rendering of 'special effects' through the depiction of snow, light and fire. Subjects such as this Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah
lent themselves particularly well to this interest, and the inclusion of a biblical scene, in this case that of Lot and his daughters, lent the painting a higher academic status than it would otherwise have had.
Mostaert's dramatic scenes were enormously popular among Flemish collectors, and he painted many versions: a particularly fine example of a painting with the same subject, but this time without the craggy, rocky landscape, is in the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium in Brussels.1
Mostaert's 'fire paintings' are listed in the inventories of some of the most important collectors of the late 16th and early seventeenth centuries, including those of Filips van Valckenisse I (1554-1614), Archduke Ernest of Austria (1553-1595) and the Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria (1614-1662).
1. E. Mai, Gillis Mostaert, een Tijdgenoot van Brueghel, Munich 2005, p. 60, fig. 11.