Details & Cataloguing

19th Century European Paintings


Filippo Palizzi
1818 - 1899
signed and dated Filip. Palazzi 67' lower left
oil on canvas
104.5 by 150.5cm., 41 by 59½in.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report


Commissioned from the artist by a French private collector in 1867
Private collection, Italy (circa 1900)
Sale: Christie's, London, 21 November 2011, lot 54
Purchased at the above sale by the present owner


Vasto, Palazzo d'Avalos, I fratelli Palizzi, 1989, no. 31


Luigi Salerno, Da Palizzi a Mancini-diciotto dipinti di una raccolta privata, Rome, 1959, p. 16, illustrated
Enrico Piceni (ed.), Catalogo Bolaffi della pittura italiana dell'800, no. 3, Turin, 1970, p. 353, illustrated

Catalogue Note

Then the waters began to settle down,
And the ark touched bottom on the tallest peak
Of old Mount Ararat.
The dove brought Noah the olive leaf,
And Noah when he saw that the grass was green,
Opened up the ark, and they all climbed down,
The folks, and the animals, two by two,
Down from the mount to the valley.
And Noah wept and fell on his face
And hugged and kissed the dry ground.

And then—
God hung out his rainbow cross the sky,
And he said to Noah: That's my sign!
No more will I judge the world by flood—
Next time I'll rain down fire.

From James Weldon Johnson's poem, Noah Built the Ark, 1927

This veritable panoply of the animal world, and a tour de force of animalier painting, reprises the 1864 version shown at the 1867 Exposition Universelle in Paris and bought there by King Victor Emmanuel II (now in the Museo Capodimonte, Naples). The scale of the work befits the subject's quite literally biblical proportions, yet every animal and its distinct character and gait is observed with painstaking and empathetic attention to detail.    

Palizzi is considered the leading Neapolitan animal painter of the Italian Ottocento. Known as a painter of horses and sheep, the subject of the Deluge provided him with the opportunity to show off his precocious skills at capturing fauna of all kinds. In conceiving this grand composition, from the spatial recession to the luminosity of the palette, he was no doubt inspired and influenced by the work of the Northern Renaissance masters, and of Jan Breughel the Elder in particular (fig. 1), which he saw during his travels to the Netherlands in the 1850s.  

19th Century European Paintings