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Samuel Colman, 1780–1845
The Rock of Salvation
Former Title(s):
The Mysterious Island
Materials & Techniques:
Oil on canvas
24 1/8 x 29 1/4 inches (61.3 x 74.3 cm)

Signed and dated in gray paint, lower center: "S. Colman 1837."

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Fund
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Paintings and Sculpture
Subject Terms:
allegory | astronomy | clouds | evening | meteorology | moon | religious and mythological subject | rocks (landforms) | salvation | science | sea | seascape | sky | smoke | stars | storm | sun | sunset | waves (natural events)
Not on view
IIIF Manifest:

Samuel Colman was a Protestant dissenter from the Church of England and produced many paintings that functioned both as religious and political sermons. Like his earlier The Delivery of Israel out of Egypt, which showed Moses poised on a pinnacle of rock beneath a pillar of fire symbolizing God’s deliverance of the Israelites from slavery, Colman portrays Christ as a symbol of salvation, placing the crucifix at the summit of a rocky island. The artist likens Christ’s death to a burnt offering (the highest sacrifice according to scripture) by showing black smoke ascending skyward from the cross, linking—like the pillar of fire—heaven and earth, the divine and the human. Colman’s preoccupation with themes of deliverance and salvation can be tied to his deeply felt religious and political convictions, including his opposition to slavery.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2016

Acquisitions : The First Decade 1977-1986, Yale Center for British Art , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1986, p. 12, no. 7, N590.2 A7 OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

Duncan Robinson, Acquisitions : The First Decade 1977 - 1986, , Burlington Magazine, vol. 128, October 1986, p. 12, no. 7, N1 B87 128:3 OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

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