Biblia Veteris Testamenti

Alternate Titles:

Biblia Veteris Testamenti et Historie artificiosis picturis effigiata

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Alternate Titles

Biblia Veteris Testamenti et Historie artificiosis picturis effigiata

Extent / Format

440 pages / 16.3 x 11.5 cm

Artist / School

Published in the print house of Christian Egenolff
Woodcuts by Hans Sebald Beham

Short description

The Biblia Veteris Testamenti et Historie artificiosis picturis effigiata was printed in Frankfurt am Main in March of 1551. The gorgeously illustrated work present biblical scenes in sophisticatedly colored woodcuts, which make the religious narrations perceptible. The extraordinary quality of the book is bespoken not only by the illustration of the work, but also by its high-quality binding.

Facsimile editions available


Biblia Veteris Testamenti

In the year 1551, a book was printed in Frankfurt am Main bearing the full title of Biblia Veteris Testamenti et Historie artificiosis picturis effigiata. This book originated from the first print shop in Frankfurt, namely that of Christian Egenolff. The Biblia Veteris is a thrillingly illustrated Bible in four parts. The first part of the Bible contains the Old Testament, the second the New Testament, the third the Book of Revelation, and the fourth the Martyrium Christi. All four parts were furnished with high-quality miniatures, which reflect the religious text with unusual precision and in gorgeously luminous colors.

A Convincing Composition

The Biblia Veteris is a work of extraordinary quality. The book’s elaborately designed binding already leaves a lasting impression on every beholder. It consists of two thin wood boards, which are bound together with hand-dyed brown goatskin. The leather was embellished with decorative floral and figural patterns in shimmering gold. Two brass clasps round out the high-quality impression of the work. The first three parts of the Bible were composed according to an ingenious system. A biblical scene is pictured in the middle of each page. The title of this biblical scene is found about the picture in Latin, and in German below. The pictures consist of vivid woodcuts of excellent quality, which also make the biblical tales completely understandable and perceptible even without text.

Masterful Work from Fankfurt

The Biblia Veteris Testamenti was printed in Frankfurt am Main in March of 1551, which can be accounted for by a date stamp in the document. They were printed in the publishing house of Christian Egenolff. Egenolff was the founder of the first publisher in Frankfurt and was responsible for the printing of 500+ books, an impressive count in the Late Middle Ages. Most of the prints from the Egenolff publishing house contained illustrations by the master Sebald Beham, who also illustrated the Biblia Veteris. Beham, who was originally from Nuremberg, was one of the greatest painters and copperplate engravers of his time. Researchers assume therefrom that he attained his artistic training in the workshop of Albrecht Dürer. His fantastical copperplates and woodcuts caused a stir among his contemporaries and were a source of indignation for some. In the year 1529, he was suspected of disseminating pornography and was expelled from the city of Nuremberg. Thereupon he went to Frankfurt, where he created ca. 270 copperplates and 300 woodcuts for Bibles and chronicles. The pictures of the Biblia Veteris were initially printed in black and white and were colorized in the 17th century. Their convincing expressiveness was further strengthened by the interesting play of color.

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