Posted by: davidlarkin | April 17, 2019

Sodom and Gomorrah Explained by Albrecht Dürer

“Lot and his Daughters” by Albrecht Dürer

Pastor Joseph Parker ministered for years at City Temple in London, England. One morning, an elderly woman walked up to him after a service and thanked him for shedding some much-needed light on a particular Bible story.

“Dr. Parker,” the woman began, “you do such a wonderful job explaining the Bible. Did you know until this morning, I had always thought Sodom and Gomorrah were husband and wife?”

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Painting is “Lot and his Daughters” by Albrecht Dürer – dated (1496-99). From the National Gallery, Washington DC. Here is the National Gallery Overview of the painting:

This scene is painted on the reverse side of Dürer’s Madonna and Child. The story of Lot and his daughters comes from the nineteenth chapter of the Book of Genesis. In the foreground, Lot and his two children are portrayed fleeing from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, which erupt in blinding explosions of fire in the background. Lot’s wife is visible on the path at the upper left in the middle distance. She has been turned into a pillar of salt for disobeying the divine command by looking back on the scene of retribution.

This scene was important for the moral lesson it taught. Like the story of Noah and the flood, that of Lot and the desolation of Sodom and Gomorrah was an allegory demonstrating the power of God to save the righteous.

Since the combination of the story of Lot with the depiction of the Virgin and Child is extremely unusual, the exact relation of the two images remains unclear. However, they could be understood as two examples of the value of a just life and of the pervasive grace of God, especially if the Madonna and Child on the obverse was intended as a private devotional image.


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