Despite their great poverty, Philemon and Baucis offered hospitality to the gods Jupiter and Mercury, who were wandering unrecognised on the earth and had been turned away by everyone else whose help they had sought (Ovid, Metamorphoses). The corrupt world is punished and disappears beneath the floodwaters, but the couple, seen here in the right middle ground in a supplicatory posture, is saved. The main theme of the painting, however, is the natural catastrophe: nature in all its primordial power with cloudbursts from a heavy-laden sky, the flooded stream, the drowning and the already drowned.
Overall: 147,1 cm × 209,6 cm × 2,5 cm
Framed: 177,5 cm × 239 cm × 7,5 cm
Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, Gemäldegalerie
1640 inventory of the estate of P.P. Rubens; Coll. Leopold Wilhelm;
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