The Universal Flood © National Marine Museum / A. Fux
The universal flood
Picture of Epinal
After 1789; before 1822
Watercolor on paper
32 x 41 cm
It is at Epinal that the seventeenthe century, the first xylographic images, generally representing protective saints, and it was Jean-Charles Pellerin, a clockmaker, who gave the definitive impetus at the end of the XVIIIe century to this popular art. He extended it to all sorts of profane subjects. He taught the trade of wood engraving to a soldier of the Empire, Reveille, who tried to translate his memories of campaign. Then Reveillé formed François Georgin (1801-1863), whose production was very important from 1819 to his death. As these images are virtually never signed or dated, it is difficult to specify their attribution.
One illustration occupies almost the entire document. In the foreground a group of men, women and children are trying to escape the rising waves. In the background, appears a large ship, the ark of Noah. Under the 2 illustration, text columns describe the events.
The representation of the deluge depicted in this image of Epinal is directly inspired by a plaque of majolica preserved in the municipal museum Fréderic Blandin de Nevers (Inv. No. NF 1363, plate of faience of great fire polychrome, last 1 / 4 of XVIIe century, h. 31 x 42cm). The main axes of the composition were conserved: a couple in the foreground clinging to a tree to try to save a child, a young man climbed in the branches of the same tree and at the bottom, already inaccessible, Noah's Ark Different elements have been modified. A number of characters have been added to the Epinal board. The composition on the right, a man wearing an old man and a woman raising his child at arm's length are the identical reprint of the painting by Jean Baptiste Régnault (1754-1829) entitled The Deluge and preserved in the Louvre (Inv. 7380, presented at the Salon in 1789, h. 89 x 71 cm).
A draped woman standing trying to catch the branch of the tree in the center was also added. In addition, a mountainous island located in the center of the composition in the background has disappeared from the Epinal board. This type of representation of the flood is characteristic of the artists of the XVIIe century (cf Antoine Carrache, Alessandro Turchi, Nicolas Poussin ...).
The proposed chronological timeframe is based on the date of presentation at the Salon of the painting of Régnault in 1789 and included in the composition as well as by the presence of a stamp on the reverse of an identical copy preserved in MUCEM dating from 1822.