… we present Jesus and the Twelve Apostles.
In this collection of the Gospels from 1591, the text is written in both Arabic and Latin. It's inscribed "With compliments to my friend Dr. W. Burggraaf, Christmas 1931."
A beautiful example of works in translation, the book also contains 149 woodcut illustrations. They were, however, printed from only 68 blocks, so the careful reader can discern some copycat pictures in different places. Like the two below, both used to illustrate a version of the same story in Matthew and then in John.
Reusing woodblocks was a fairly common practice, particularly in bibles where multiple versions of similar events or themes are told by the various authors of the books of the Bible throughout. We've come across several other books in our collection where the illustrations give us deja vu.
That's it for the 12 Days of Christmas in July series! Have a merry holiday, and if you should feel like celebrating with us, stop by and see us next week – we'd be happy to show you any of the books featured here, along with any of the others in our collections!
St. George Jackson Mivart was a well-known nineteenth-century English biologist. He served as Vice-President of the Zoological Society twice (1869 and 1882)and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society for his work On the Appendicular skeleton of the Primates. This work on animals in the canine family is filled with woodcuts and 45 hand-colored plates drawn from nature by J.G. Keulemans. Mivart examines the anatomy of canids from the Mexican lap dog to the common wolf, and just about every variety in between.
This book recently received conservation treatment through the Adopt a Book Program. Before conservation, the book and plates were so fragile that they could not be scanned without risking further deterioration. Thanks to conservator Jim Downey and donor Robin Wenneker, the book is now available to all in our reading room. I'll be updating the Adopt a Book record to reflect the conservation work in a day or two, but in the meantime, I couldn't wait to share this sampling of the book's beautiful plates.
Mivart, St. George Jackson, 1827-1900. Dogs, jackals, wolves, and foxes : a monograph of the Canidæ by St. George Mivart ; with woodcuts, and 45 coloured plates drawn from nature by J.G. Keulemans and hand-coloured. London : R.H. Porter : Dulau, 1890. MERLIN catalog record
These are selections from Wild Pilgrimage (1932), a wordless novel by Lynd Ward. In this novel, Ward manages two plot threads by color-coding them. The real world is represented in black-and-white woodcuts, while the main character’s inner life is depicted in red and white. Ward's books deal with the role of the individual in society, the identity of the artist, and the hardships and exploitation suffered by the working classes. Ward worked primarily in wood engraving, which allowed for a refined line and detail. His style combines the emotive elements of Expressionism with the monumental, muscular figures of Art Deco. Ward varies the use of space and even the dimensions of his images, providing the reader with a changing experience as pages are turned.
MERLIN catalog record
We recently purchased an artist's book entitled A Line by Suyeon Kim. A Line tells the story of a blind fisherman and his dog through linocut and woodcut illustrations, using very few words. The images form a continuous strip of narrative, over sixteen feet long, which is accordion folded into the binding. Special Collections has copy number 83, signed by the artist.