‘And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth’ we read in Genesis 6-8. Only Noah, his family and some animals were allowed to survive, by going into an ark built by Noah out of gopher wood. Then ‘the rain was upon the earth, forty days and forty nights’. This unfathomable tragedy of the Flood was depicted by many of the Mannerist painters: it was a challenge to the artist’s ability to portray the human figure in contorted, dramatic poses.
Van Mander was a master of the genre, as this little panel shows.