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Herri met de Bles

The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah


Herri met de Bles
Bouvignes (?) about 1510 – active until about 1555


The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah


About 1545


Oil on wood


29.8 x 43.2 cm


Purchase, Horsley and Annie Townsend Bequest, inv. 1963.1414


Western Art

In the Book of Genesis, God decides that Lot and his family will be spared from the destruction of their city, Sodom, on the condition that they never look back. Unable to resist, Lot’s wife is transformed into a pillar of salt, shown here on the right. In the shadowy cave at centre, Lot’s daughters resolve to continue the bloodline by procreating with their own father. As the viewer peers into the panel to perceive these tiny figures within a vast landscape, they, like Lot’s wife, fall into the temptation of the visual, the desire to look at what is taboo or forbidden. Artists and viewers of the time appreciated the power of painting to contain such layered readings.

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