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    Sale 7435

    British Works on Paper

    21 November 2007, London, King Street

  • Lot 45

    Benjamin West, P.R.A. (1738-1820)

    Study for the Royal Chapel at Windsor Castle: The Sacrifice of Noah

    Price Realised  


    Benjamin West, P.R.A. (1738-1820)
    Study for the Royal Chapel at Windsor Castle: The Sacrifice of Noah
    pen and brown ink on grey-blue prepared paper
    21½ x 31¼ in. (54.6 x 79.4 cm.)

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    The Sacrifice of Noah was one of the subjects that West proposed for King George III's planned Chapel of Revealed Religion at Windsor. Both the Deluge and the rainbow, the sign of God's covenant, are key examples of God manifesting himself to man. The present composition is an early idea, probably dating from the early 1780s. The catalogue for the 1983 San Antonio exhibition notes that choosing to show Noah's sacrifice taking place in a world that is still largely submerged is 'highly original' and without precedent. In order to combine the two divine manifestations in one composition, West has even gone against the biblical text, which states that the sacrifice did not take place until the flood waters had receded.

    Although King George's plans for the Chapel never came to fruition, West later developed this composition into two separate pictures: Noah sacrificing (circa 1801), in the San Antonio Museum of Art, Texas (von Erffa & Staley, 236); and The Deluge (1790-1803). Although the whereabouts of the large version of The Deluge is currently unknown, the smaller version is now in the Williams College Art Museum, Williamstown, Massachusetts (von Erffa & Staley, 235). The arrangement and pose of Noah and his family, both in the present drawing and the finished picture of Noah sacrificing, seem to derive from a picture of the same subject that was thought in the 18th Century to be by Poussin, and which West probably knew through an engraving of 1746 by J. Frey (N.L. Pressley, Revealed Religion, 1983, exh. cat., p. 33).

    For further information on the Royal Chapel in Windsor Castle, see lot 36.

    Special Notice

    VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 15% on the buyer's premium


    The artist's family, and by descent to
    Mrs P. Howard; Sotheby's, London, 22 March 1979, part of lot 26, where purchased by the present owner.


    San Antonio, Museum of Art, Revealed Religion: Benjamin West's Commissions for Windsor Castle and Fonthill Abbey, 18 September-13 November 1983, no. 8.