The Entry of the Animals into Noah's Ark

Object Details


The Entry of the Animals into Noah's Ark


Jan Brueghel the Elder (Flemish, 1568 - 1625)






Oil on panel


54.6 x 83.8 cm (21 1/2 x 33 in.)

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A profusion of animals fills the earth and sky. Fighting, playing, climbing, flying, and swimming, they are shepherded by Noah toward the ark in the far distance. All species of animals are portrayed, from large lumbering elephants to tiny turtles and hamsters in the foreground. Bats and birds soar across the sky, receding into the background where brighter skies hold promise of a future.

The story of Noah's ark provided a subject well suited to Jan Brueghel the Elder's descriptive abilities. Overcome by the wickedness of the human race, God resolved to cleanse the earth with a great flood. He spared only the lives of the family of Noah, the sole just man. God instructed Noah to build an ark and to take on board a male and a female of every species of bird and beast.

In 1609 Brueghel was appointed court painter to Archduke Albert and the Infanta Isabella, who had collected exotic and unusual animals from across the world, creating a menagerie in Brussels. Brueghel studied and drew many of these animals from life. With the discovery of the New World in the 1600s came an increased curiosity about natural history. This interest led many European rulers, who had in the past collected stuffed animals, shells, and other natural objects, to form menageries of rare live animals.

by 1786

Jan-Egidius Peeters d'Aertselaar de Cleydael, died 1786, by inheritance to Henri Joseph

by 1793 - 1822

Henri Joseph d'Aertselaar, Baron Stier (Antwerp, Belgium) [sold, Stier d'Artselaer sale, Bincken, Antwerp, July 29, 1822, lot 27, to Lambert Jan Nieuwenhuys.]

1822 -

Lambert Jan van Nieuwenhuys

about 1920

Private Collection (Vienna, Austria)

- 1977

Private Collection (Switzerland)

1977 - 1992

Robert H. Smith (New York, New York; Washington, DC), sold through John & Paul Herring & Company, Inc. (New York, New York) to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1992.

Jan Brueghel the Elder, A Loan Exhibition (June 21 to July 20, 1979) (Cat. 29)
  • Brod Gallery, (London)
Art and Science: Joris Hoefnagel and the Representation of Nature in the Renaissance (October 12, 1999 to January 9, 2000) (No cat. no.)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles)
Rubens and Brueghel: A Working Friendship / Rubens en Brueghel: Een artistieke vriendschap (July 5 to January 28, 2007) (Cat. 26)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), July 5 to September 24, 2006
  • Mauritshuis, (The Hague), October 21, 2006 to January 28, 2007
Education Resources

Education Resource




Finding the Animals: A Visual Exploration of Art

Students discuss Jan Brueghel's painting The Entry of the Animals into Noah's Ark and write about and draw their favorite animal.

Visual Arts; English–Language Arts


Single Class Lesson

Puzzle Mystery

Solve a mystery using clues made of small details of a painting, writing titles, and finishing a class puzzle.

Visual Arts; English–Language Arts


Two-Part Lesson

Related Media
  • /
    Audio: Entry of the Animals into Noah's Ark, feat. Anne Woollett