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The Illustrated Bible


The Illustrated Bible

The Bibles in this section exemplify the evolution of print technology and refinement of engraving practices when illustrating biblical imagery, from the hand-press period to machine-press printing.  

The imagery of the Old Testament shows the efforts of artisans to visualize biblical times, including complicated theological interpretations of iconography such as Jacob’s ladder, ancient architectural monuments, and miraculous feats by God. New Testament illustrations typically feature themes of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which present unique challenges concerning how to visually depict spiritual concepts—such as the Holy Spirit, the Trinity, and salvation.  

By the nineteenth century, engravings produced by early woodblock techniques were replaced by the novel medium of metal etching. This new engraving technique allowed for more detailed printed images compared to the older practice of woodblock engraving. As a result, the hubs of artisanal production shifted from the German woodblock centers of the early modern period to New York, following the modern advent of metal plate engraving.

The Annunciation, based on a painting by Johannotengraved by J.N. Gimbrede