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The story of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11: 1–9) is intended to explain the existence of different languages. After the Great Flood, all of humanity spoke the same language. Noah’s great-grandson, Nimrod, decided to build a tower in Babel that would reach heaven. When God saw it, he was angry and made people speak different languages so they could no longer understand one another. The building stopped.
A stonemason chips away at a block with his hammer and chisel. His ceramic jug and half-drunk glass of red wine stand on the ground beside him and a little boy sits holding his chisels. This painting gives us an impression of what a sixteenth-century Italian building site might have looked like.
The Tower of Babel
Oil on canvas
H 137.1 x W 189.2 cm
Bequest of Lt. Colonel Olney in 1837