Noah’s Ark by Jan Brueguel, The YoungerMuseo Lázaro Galdiano
At first glance this does not look like animals entering the ark. There are animals, in pairs, but where is the ark?
If we look over the monkey's shoulder we can see the ark in the background and animals are walking up the gantry in pairs, the two giraffes being the easiest animal to identify.
There is a lot to see in this painting. The birds in the trees are, on the whole, in pairs, but some do not have a mate.
This owl seems to be alone.
As does this pheasant, perched on a branch.
But what are these cats doing here? They don't look like they are there for the love of all of God's creatures...unless it's the taste of God's creatures they love.
Breughel has added as many animals as possible to the painting, including these frogs in the bottom left corner, at the edge of the water.
As well as tortoises and what look like guinea pigs, in the foreground.
This isn't the harmonious scene you expect with a biblical tale. The dogs are worrying the geese and the lion is snarling at the viewer. (That's us!)
The magnificent dappled horse with the wavy mane, takes centre stage. It is almost an anatomical painting, with the muscles well defined. It doesn't appear to have a mate.
Behind the horse we can see Noah and two of his son's wives gathering supplies for the voyage.
This might be one of Noah's sons ushering the camels with a stick. The camels are also laden with goods for the voyage.
This seemingly disembodied eye actually belongs to a brown cow standing behind the elephant.
This scene demonstrates what's to come on board the ark. The animals are milling around. While some appear to be waiting patiently, others are definitely looking restless already.
The river is flowing into the distance and we follow its path to where the ark is moored. The use of blues in the forest to the left and in the background is indicative of the impending flood.
This piece is from a painting by Jan Brueghel the Elder. He was one of the painters closest to Albert VII, Archduke of Austria. He was lucky enough to visit the Archduke's menagerie and paint this picture featuring some of the exotic animals living there.