Building_Babel

One of a series of boards for Towneley Hall - Take A Closer Look, each showing some of Towneley Hall Art Gallery and Museum's finest objects in great detail - this looks at The Building of the Tower of Babel c.1600 by Marten van Valckenborch I (1534-1612). The painting combines a wide landscape with minute detail showing everyday life in Babel. Every time you visit this painting you find something new to see.
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The Building of the Tower of Babel by Marten van Valkenborch (probably painted around 1600)

Marten van Valckenborch - The Building of the Tower of Babel, 1600

Here is Nimrod, who ordered the building, guarded by around 120 soldiers and courtiers, all helping to create traffic chaos.

Here is Nimrod, who ordered the building, guarded by around 120 soldiers and courtiers, all helping to create traffic chaos.

This event is a series of executions, common throughout the 16th century Europe in both Protestant and Catholic countries.

This event is a series of executions, common throughout the century Europe in both Protestant and Catholic countries.

There are heaps of sand, lime and bricks around the south corner and there is a route to the top for materials using ropes and pulleys.

There are heaps of sand, lime and bricks around the south corner and there is a route to the top for materials using ropes and pulleys.

The people in the left foreground of the painting are involved in the building process but elsewhere in the picture are literally thousands of others who are living totally different lives

The people in the left foreground of the painting are involved in the building process but elsewhere in the picture are literally thousands of others who are living totally different lives

Here are festivities in the local ale house, (just like in Burnley right up until the 19th century, farm-houses made and sold beer).

Here are festivities in the local ale house, (just like in Burnley right up until the century, farm-houses made and sold beer).

Here is a wood yard next to a very busy thoroughfare, it is fenced off to stop the wood being stolen.

Here is a wood yard next to a very busy thoroughfare, it is fenced off to stop the wood being stolen.

The building is on such a scale that materials can only come from a wide area and a harbour is essential.

The building is on such a scale that materials can only come from a wide area and a harbour is essential.

Here are market stalls selling food, a large crowd are watching an event, the crowds for the event have created a demand for food.

Here are market stalls selling food, a large crowd are watching an event, the crowds for the event have created a demand for food.

An important group of workers are the wagon drivers, for ever moving up and down the ramps leading to the first story.

An important group of workers are the wagon drivers, for ever moving up and down the ramps leading to the first story.

The buildings and gardens of the second and third floors on the south east side of the tower follow no particular style. Plots are sold for owners to do as they please.

The buildings and gardens of the second and third floors on the south east side of the tower follow no particular style. Plots are sold for owners to do as they please.

The cranes on this corner of the Tower are in constant motion taking stone up to higher levels.

The cranes on this corner of the Tower are in constant motion taking stone up to higher levels.

At the top levels, wooden frameworks are filled in with bricks, lower down stone cladding hides the brickwork.

At the top levels, wooden frameworks are filled in with bricks, lower down stone cladding hides the brickwork.

Metal working was an essential activity to support the building and here a furnace can be seen .

Metal working was an essential activity to support the building and here a furnace can be seen .

Babel stretches from the harbour to the fast flowing river with stone quarries beyond on the hillside.

Babel stretches from the harbour to the fast flowing river with stone quarries beyond on the hillside.

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