The Deluge by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851). Exhibited 1805[?]. Oil on canvas, 1429 x 2356 mm. Courtesy of Tate Britain (Accession no. NO0493. Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856.) Click on image to enlarge it.

Commentary from Tate Britain Online (2010)

The Bible was a prime source of subjects that were both sensational and intellectually elevated. A critic commenting on this painting of the Biblical flood admired ‘that severity of manner which was demanded by the awfulness of the subject’. Turner does seem to be referring to the ‘severe’ style of the 17th-century French artist Nicolas Poussin. He also connected the picture to the poetry of John Milton, the most severely Sublime of poets.

Turner became an important model for younger artists of the apocalyptic Sublime, notably John Martin and Francis Danby.

Related material


Hokanson, Alison. Turner’s Whaling Pictures. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2016.

Last modified 14 May 2016