Scene of Deluge 

Scene of Deluge is a painting by Joseph Désiré Court ( 1827)


The ‘Scene of Deluge’ is a painting made by Joseph Désiré Court. It was first exhibited at the Paris Salon on November 4, 1827. The work is owned by the French state and is displayed in the Museum of Fine Arts of Lyon. 

Although Joseph could not compete for the awards of the Salon as a laureate of Prix de Rome, the ‘Scene of Deluge’ remains a unique depiction of the flood story in Genesis.


Scene of Deluge Joseph Desire

This painting is called ‘Scene of Deluge.’ 

You see a man trying to save his father and completely ignoring his wife and child (son), who were closer to him. 

This painting is an allegory about clinging to the past.

The wife represents the present life, the son the future, and the father represents the past, to which the man clings. Thus, losing his present and future.

A perfect metaphor for what many go through on a daily basis. 


One would have expected that the ‘Scene of Deluge’ will represent Noah and his ark as the biblical story of Genesis where God flooded the earth, sparing Noah and those who were in the ark with him. However, Joseph Désiré chose to give us a perfect metaphor based on what we go through every day. This a well-chosen reminder to us to focus on the present and future rather than clinging to the past.


Varied Opinions

Many have offered their interpretation of the painting. Some suggest that it could also mean that the Man believes that his wife and son were safe for the time being, therefore he focused on saving his father who was drowning.

Despite these opinions, the art community describes the scene as an allegory. The past floats away and despite how much we try, it will never be within our reach again. The present and the future are nearer to us. The present is closer to its end and the future is very much alive and young, waiting to be welcomed.


Scene of the Deluge, 1827 by Joseph Désiré (1797-1865).

The painting is classified as religious art.




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