Jonah and the Whale, by Rubens

Thematically, the story of Watson and the Shark is perhaps closest to the Old Testament account of Jonah and the Whale. Copley's painting is similar to Rubens' in terms of the compositional arrangement of the figures, the boat, and the beast. By association, Watson and the Shark thus becomes a modern tale of salvation, whose importance is elevated by virtue of its pictorial association with more traditional renditions of the theme.

Phillippe-Joseph Tassaert after Rubens, Jonah Thrown into the Sea, 18th century after original painting of 1618­1619, etching and engraving, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1951 (51.501.7003). All rights reserved, TheMetropolitan Museum of Art  

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