ROMANESQUE PAINTER, French
(active c. 1100 in Central France)

Noah's Ark

c. 1100
Fresco
Abbey Church, Saint-Savin-sur-Gartempe (Vienne)

The fresco cycle in the vault of the monastery church of Saint-Savin-sur-Gartempe narrates stories from the Old Testament in a rather confusing sequence. When establishing the narrative composition, priority was given to the arrangement of narrative events rather than to the continuous narrative flow. Thus, popular subjects, such as Noah's Ark, were made to stand out in spectacular fashion.

As was common in the Middle Ages, the artist who created this picture showed the ark as a lateral elevation. Judging by its hull, the ark is a Viking ship with a stem fortified by monsters, and a three-story superstructure and small wheel-house just as described in the Bible. Animals look out through the round-arched windows, and Noah's family crouch above.