Join Our Mailing List

Sponsor Us!

The Book of the People of the Book:
The Antwerp Bible Illustrations


Return to "The Book of the People of the Book": Table of Contents


Print Friendly and PDF

The most charming early Bible illustrations are the hand-tinted woodcuts in De Bibel Int Carte (Antwerp, 1516): Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah's Ark, the Tower of Babel, the Offering of Isaac, Joseph and His Brethren, Moses in the Nile and at the Burning Bush, David and Goliath, and Solomon and His Temple. The whole gamut of biblical heroes are portrayed in a reverent yet gently whimsical manner. There is a touching naivete about place and persons. The colors, pale pastel, do not compete with but enhance the delineating woodcut lines. As conceptions of a pious believer fully at home with heroes of his faith-who are nonetheless familiar friends-living with them and sharing their adventures, these portraits are unsurpassed. They are as endearing to the reader as they were dear to the artist. The serpent who intruded into the lives of Adam and Eve is not so much evil as sly and slimy. The ark of Noah is everybody's overburdened boat. Abraham greeting his angelic guests is the genial host, his geniality made possible by a wife in the background busy with her chores. It is not that we enter their world but that they enter ours, which makes it so much more comfortable to be with them and to learn from them. The illustrations, aesthetically entertaining, become pedagogically powerful.

Adam and Eve

 

Noah's Ark

 

Baby Moses Drawn from the Nile

 

David Playing His Harp
Certainly among the most charming depictions of biblical events and characters are these hand-colored illustrations in this volume, which is a paraphrase in Dutch of portions of the Bible. The pictures display a naive piety, and the pastel colors seem appropriate to the simplicity of the conception and execution. Some of the illustrations convey continuity of activity-an early form of animation in illustration. We provide four illustrations (Library of Congress Photos).

Sources: Abraham J. Karp, From the Ends of the Earth: Judaic Treasures of the Library of Congress, (DC: Library of Congress, 1991).

Back to Top