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Bibles, Illustrated


Illustrated Manuscripts, Roman and Byzantine (§ 1).

Teutonic and Celtic Manuscripts (§ 2).

Manuscripts of the Eleventh Century (§ 3).

Biblia Pauperum (§ 4).

Illustrated Bibles of the Reformation and Later (§ 5).

The Nineteenth Century (§ 6).

1. Illustrated Manuscripts, Roman and Byzantine.

The history of illustration goes back beyond the Christian era; the ancients adorned manuscripts of Homer, Vergil, and Livy with drawings and richly painted designs, and illustrations were introduced for educational purposes into the works of Vitruvius on architecture, Aratus on astrology, and Vegetius on the art of war. In like manner, from the time of Constantine and probably earlier, illustration was applied to manuscripts of the Bible. Presumably to this decoration may be referred what Jerome and Chrysostom say in reprobation of the luxury which people allowed themselves in the ornamentation of the Scriptures. The high veneration paid to the Bible explains the zeal with which miniature-painting was pursued in the early 165Church. The extant illustrated manuscripts do not apparently go further back than the fourth century (the fragment of Genesis in the Vienna library; the Vatican Joshua; the evangeliarium of Rossano; and a Syriac evangeliarium of 586 in the Laurentian library at Florence). In these many features, such as the architecture, costume, action, the introduction of allegorical figures and personifications, indicate the nature of the scene or its locality, which are derived from ancient art and reveal the prevalence of a good tradition. Among them are small pictures executed in body-colors with idyllic artistic feeling, after the manner of the older mural painting. The miniatures of the Vienna Genesis are still partly in the purely illusionist style which had been dominant since the Flavian period, like the paintings in the Baths of Constantine; but the greater part of them are in a style specially adapted to book illustration, more a draftsman's than a painter's. They exhibit the continued influence of the narrative art of the Roman empire in the second and third centuries, as shown in the pictures from the Odyssey on the Esquiline, on Roman sarcophagi, and in the pictures of Philostratus; this defined the specific style of all Christian compositions until the sixteenth century. The illustrations of the Paris Psalter and other manuscripts which may be assigned to the end of the fourth century are characteristic of the end of Greek and the beginning of Roman painting. The Joshua continues the Roman triumphal style, with strong affinity to the reliefs of Trajan's Column. In the Byzantine empire the influence of the ancient civilization was long felt; but a more ornamental tendency came in with the iconoclastic controversy. It is true there are some illustrations of the ninth and tenth centuries, a psalter and a commentary on Isaiah in the Vatican, another psalter and the sermons of Gregory Nazianzen in the Bibliothèque Nationale at Paris, which are worthy to stand by the side of the early Christian specimens; but as a rule the drawing grows harder and stiffer. Ornamentation, on the other hand, is richer; the gold ground becomes more usual, the initial letters are made prominent, and the ornamental borders are more noteworthy. Mosaic and enamel painting set the style for the miniatures as well. The standard of Byzantine painting is laid down in the Mount Athos "Guide to Painting" (1458; translated into German by G. Schäfer, Treves, 1855). The development of illustration in the West was altogether different. Here, too, the influence of the early Christian tradition was operative; but the entrance of the Teutonic nations into the Church brought new impulses and new problems. They were, indeed, barbarians, without any native artistic style; but they brought with them a joyous power of accomplishment, a feeling for nature, and a bold love of truth which had far-reaching effects.

2. Teutonic and Celtic Manuscripts.

The Roman tradition continued among the Lombards and the Franks; but art became ruder and less refined. In the early Christian and Byzantine manuscripts the decoration had been usually confined to the addition of pictures; the Teutonic peoples extended it to the text itself. The initials are almost buried in bright colors and elaborate decoration, the leaves framed in colored designs. The scribe was often the painter. These characteristics appear plainly in the Irish manuscripts—the "Book of Kells" at Trinity College, Dublin, and those of Würzburg, Treves, and St. Gall. The influence of Gregory the Great helped to preserve the early Christian traditions among the Anglo-Saxons and Franks until within the Carolingian period (the Purple Gospel in the British Museum and an evangeliarium at Cambridge, seventh century). An independent conception comes out first in the illustrations proper, without any feeling for perspective, but with an attractive effort to attain truth and naturalness (Ashburnham Pentateuch, seventh century). Under the Carolingians great schools were founded for artistic copying of manuscripts at Tours, Orléans, Metz, Reichenau, St. Gall, Treves, etc. Their work was connected with the old tradition by its sober-minded simplicity and its careful technique (evangeliarium of Godescalc, Paris; another at Vienna; another of St. Médard, 826, at Soissons; another of King Lothair, 843, and the Bible of Charles the Bald, 850, both in Paris). In the provinces the development, though less beautiful, was more independent (Bible of Alcuin, British Museum). Here the draftsman takes precedence of the painter, but the work is marked by originality and poetic imagination and power (Utrecht Psalter, ninth century; a benedictionale at Chatsworth; evangeliaria of Otto I at Aix-la-Chapelle, of Egbert at Treves, c. 980, of Echternach at Gotha, c. 990, and of Otto III at Aix-la-Chapelle). Then the decoration becomes gradually more elaborate, the pictorial and ornamental parts begin to interchange their qualities, the initiate and borders are rich and gay.

3. Manuscripts of the Eleventh Century.

In the eleventh century the Cluniac mood of struggle and renunciation prevails; the spiritual excitement and vivid fancy of the time are shown in the Bible-illustrations; wasted forms in stiff garments set forth the ascetic ideal of their creators; truth to nature disappears entirely. And yet there is great progress in every domain of the intellectual life-it is the age of Bernard. Even in the miniatures there are signs of the awakening of the individual life; beneath all the passion and combat there are a quiet melancholy and longing for peace. Henry II endowed his Bamberg foundations with beautifully painted books, and at Hildesheim an important scriptorium, influential throughout the north of Europe, was founded by Bernward, himself a pioneer in painting. Here the forms are hard and traditional, but the content is new and full of deep and animated feeling. After the rise of general civilization under the Hohenstaufens, the bars of form were to a great extent broken down. The joy of living came back, and led the imagination once more into the comprehension of beautiful things, both graceful and dignified. There is a better feeling for outline, and the study of the heritage of antiquity seems to revive. The Bruchsal evangeliarium at Carlsruhe shows surprisingly 166good drawing and natural movement, as does another of about 1200 in the cathedral library at Treves; best of all is that of Henry the Lion, formerly in the cathedral treasury at Prague but now in the possession of the Duke of Cumberland, and the Merseburg Vulgate. A brilliant period for miniature-painting was opening; but its tone was characterized rather by breadth than by depth, and the more popular it became, the more the profound symbolism of the early times disappeared. Illustration was now bestowed less on Bibles than on books used in public worship, until at the end of the Middle Ages artistic interest once more covered the whole Bible; but new life really came into this branch of illustration with the invention of wood-engraving.

4. Biblia Pauperum.

The transition to illustrated Bibles for the people is seen in the Biblia pauperum of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries—short representations of the earthly life of Christ in simple drawings, generally uncolored, ranging in number from thirty-four to fifty. Each event depicted is accompanied by two antitypes from the Old Testament and by four prophets with appropriate citations, and the pictures are explained in Latin or in German. The most important examples of these "Bibles of the Poor" are those of St. Florian in Lower Austria, of the Lyceum library at Constance, in the Vienna and Munich libraries [and in the ducal library at Wolfenbüttel].

5. Illustrated Bibles of the Reformation and Later.

With the invention of printing and engraving, especially wood-engraving, both the Bible and art became common property. Reproductions of the Biblia pauperum, which now first became really accessible to the "poor," are among the most celebrated of early block books. The German Bibles before Luther (Augsburg 1477, Cologne c. 1480, Nuremberg 1483, Lübeck 1494) have woodcuts. Finally Dürer, with the wonderful vision which could realize even the majestic pictures of the Apocalypse, teased Biblical illustration to its highest dignity. With the vernacular text, eagerly sought after as it was, a great variety of illustrations went hand in hand. Luther recognized their importance to the Reformation cause and promoted illustration zealously, and Melanchthon drew rough sketches, which he gave to Lucas Cranach for execution. Bible-illustration has never had such a vogue as in the first half of the sixteenth century. The most splendid edition was published by Krafft of Wittenberg in 1576 and 1584. With Bibles of the middle of the century Biblical illustrating took a new direction, when line-engraving gradually forced wood-engraving into the background. The latter was used mainly for cheap popular editions, while artistic tendencies were mainly displayed by the former. In 1607 the fifty-two pictures from the logge of the Vatican, the so-called Raffael Bible, engraved by Badalocchio and Lanfranco, were published, followed by another important series of line-engravings, the Icones biblicæ and Historiæ sacræ published by Merian at Frankfort, 1625–27, and a long list of similar works in Germany, France, and Italy. In the eighteenth century wood-engraving almost entirely died out, except for cheap ephemeral productions, while line-engraving flourished in the hands of the Dutch school, who shared the renown of the French. German art was mainly imitative, and produced little that is noteworthy in Biblical illustration. Good editions, on the other hand, were published during this period in Holland by Mortier, 1700; Danckers, 1700; Luyken, 1740; Schots, 1749. In France the best were those of Basnage, 1705, and Martin, 1724. In England, besides the Oxford Bible of 1717, there were the editions of Royaumont, 1705; Clarke, 1759; and Fleetwood, 1769. In all these the Dutch-Flemish spirit appears, with its wide, free, joyous life; the fundamental principles of illustration are based on imitation of painting; Rubens, and Rembrandt for etching, are the highest authorities. In the nineteenth century Bible-illustration took a new impulse from England. The modern romantic manner and straining after effect entered into it, largely as a result of the great Holy Bible with Engravings from Pictures and Designs by the most Eminent Artists, published in London, 1800. [This, however, had been anticipated by the Historical Part of the Holy Bible with illustrations engraved by John Cole (London, 1730) and a volume with the same title illustrated by John Sturt, as well as by the James Tittler Bible (4 vols., 1794–95). It was followed by a series of efforts, such as the Pictorial Bible by Charles Knight, with woodcuts (London, 1828–29, New York, 1843), another of the same name, but with steel engravings (London, 1847–49), a numerous series of Bible Picture Books issued by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge and the Religious Tract Society, and Bible Illustrations, issued by Frowde (London, 1896).]

6. The Nineteenth Century.

The interest in the Orient which came up with Napoleon's Egyptian campaign, in alliance with the strong realistic tendency of the century, brought in a wholly new sort of illustrated Bible, like Brown's Family Bible (London and New York), with views of towns and landscapes in addition to historical pictures. Later, wood-engraving revived reached once more an unexpected height of excellence, and succeeded in getting in touch with the great masses of the people. Notable products of this revival (in Germany) were Oliver's Bible of 1834; Overbeck's forty fine illustrations to the New Testament (1841); the Cotta edition of 1850, with 175 wood-engravings after the first artists of Germany; and, best of all the German editions, that published by Wigand (Leipsic, 1852–1860), with 240 illustrations by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld (Eng. ed., Leipsic, 1855–60; London, 1869). The technically brilliant but too theatrical designs of Doré won great popularity. The Germans have recently published several noteworthy editions, such as the "Pfeilstücker Bible" in 1887, with many explanatory archeological drawings, and the "Star Bible" published by Hinrichs (Leipsic) in 1892, with reproductions of classical pictures for the Old Testament and Hofmann's for the New. [One of the latest attempts at Biblical illustration is the work of the French artist J. J. J. Tissot (d. 1671902), who, during s ten years' residence in Palestine, prepared a series of sketches based upon study of the Biblical places and environment. The Life of our Lord Jesus Christ, with 365 compositions in color and black and white, was published in 4 vols. in 1899–1900, and The Old Testament, with 396 similar illustrations, in 1904 (2 vols.).]

(H. Hölscher.)

Bibliography: A. de Bastard, Peintures et ornements des MSS., especially vol. iii, 8 vols., Paris, 1832–69 (4th–16th centuries, a very complete work); idem, Peintures, ornements . . . de la Bible de Charles le Chauve . . . à Paris, ib. 1883; H. Shaw, Illuminated Ornaments of the Middle Ages, London, 1833 (6th–17th centuries, elaborate and costly); idem, Handbook of the Art of Illumination, ib. 1869; J. O. Westwood, Illuminated Illustrations of the Bible, copied from Select MSS. of the Middle Ages, ib. 1846 (with descriptive letterpress); H. N. Humphreys, Illuminated Books of the Middle Ages, ib. 1849 (historical and illustrative); H. A. Müller, Das Evangelistarium Heinrichs III. in der Stadtbibliothek zu Bremen, Bremen, 1862; W. R. Tymms, Art of Illuminating, London, 1866 (noteworthy); J. O. Westwood, Facsimiles of the Miniatures and Ornaments of Anglo-Saxon and Irish MSS., ib. 1868; J. H. Todd, Descriptive Remarks on Illuminations, ib. 1869 (deals largely with the Book of Kells); J. E. Wocel, Die Bilderbibel des Belislav, Prague, 1871; A. Frind, Scriptum super Apocalypsin cum imaginibus, ib. 1872; F. W. Delamotte, Primer of the Art of Illumination, London, 1874; W. de G. Birch and H. Jenner, Early Drawings and Illuminations; Introduction to the Study of Illuminated MSS., ib. 1879 ("a handsome book for specialists"); A Springer, Psalterillustrationen im frühen Mittelalter, Leipsic, 1881; idem, Die Genesisbilder in der Kunst des frühen Mittelalters, ib. 1884; O. von Gebhardt, The Miniatures of the Ashburnham Pentateuch, London, 1883; R. Muther, Die ältesten deutschen Bilderbibeln, Munich, 1883; F. X. Kraus, Die Miniaturen des Codex Egberti . . . zu Trier, Freiburg, 1884; idem, Geschichte der christlichen Kunst, i, 447 sqq., ib. 1896; Geschichte der deutschen Kunst, vol. iii, H. Janitschek, Die Malerei, Berlin, 1890; K. von Lützow, Geschichte des deutschen Kupferstichs und Holzschnitts, vol. iv, ib. 1891; S. Beissel, Das . . . Evangelienbuch im Dome zu Hildesheim, Hildesheim,1891; J. Strsygowski, Das Etschmiadzin Evangeliar, Vienna, 1891; C. von Kobell, Miniaturen und Initialen aus MSS. des 4.–16. Jahrhunderts, Munich, 1892; J. H. Middleton, Illuminated MSS. in Classical and Modern Times, London, 1892 (letterpress elaborate and comprehensive); W. von Hartel and F. Wickhoff, Die Wiener Genesis, Vienna, 1895; S. Berger, Les Manuels pour l’illustration du Psautier, in Mémoires de la société des antiquités, 1898, lvii; G. E. Warner, Illuminated MSS., London, 1900; the illustrations of the Evangeliarium of Rossano are reproduced in the exact size of the originals by A. Munoz, Rome 1907.

On the Biblia Pauperum consult: S. L. Sotheby, Principia typographica, London, 1858; J. T. Berjeau, Biblia pauperum, London, 1859; A. Camesina and G. Heider, Die bildlichen Darstellungen der Biblia pauperum . . . in St. Florian, Vienna, 1863; E. la Roche, Die älteste Bilderbibel, die sogenannte Biblia pauperum, Basel, 1881; W. L. Schreiber, Manuel de l’amateur de la gravure . . . au xve. siècle, 7 vols., Leipsic, 1891–1900; F. Laib and F. J. Schwarz, Biblia pauperum, Freiburg, 1899; E. M. Thompson, On a MS. of the Biblia pauperum, in Bibliotheca, iii, 1897; Biblia pauperum. Unicum der Heidelberger Universitäts-Bibliothek, in 34 Lichtdrucktafeln und 4 Tafeln, Berlin, 1906.

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