Light and the Spiritual: Light, Nature, and God


Charles Willson Peale here brings religion and science together. Although seemingly a religious theme, Peale also regularly gave natural history lectures on the animals depicted in the painting.

The beam of light shining down from the heavens, putting Noah in a spotlight, indicates the presence of God in the natural world.

The light depicts a new relationship between God and nature and God and human beings. In the Middle Ages, God was separate from the world and love of God conflicted with love of nature. This conflict was resolved when people began to think of God in nature, and even of God as nature.

Charles Willson Peale, Noah and the Arc, 1819, Pennsylvania Academy of Art