Scripture for the Eyes

USD $65.00

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ISBN: 978-1-904832-66-9

224 Pages

240 x 280 mm (11 x 9 ½ in)

66 colour and 70 b&w illustrations

In association with the Museum of Biblical Art, New York

September 2009


A study of the crucial role played by scriptural prints in the complex processes of religious self-formation that dominated early modern European culture

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Edited by James Clifton and Walter S. Melion.

With an essay by Walter S. Melion.

Contributions by James Clifton, Merel Groentjes, Walter S. Melion, Todd Martin Richardson, Jamie Smith, and Wendy Thompson

This major scholarly publication focuses attention on the extraordinarily rich array of biblical prints produced in the Low Countries (comprising today’s Holland, Belgium, and Luxembourg) during the 16th and early 17th centuries, a time of dynamic and sometimes violent religious and political change. In cities such as Antwerp and Amsterdam, prints were the primary medium for the invention and dissemination of biblical imagery that gave viewers new ways of relating to scripture, and hence to God. Far from simply following artistic developments in the monumental arts, prints of Old and New Testament subjects were agents of innovation in their own right, that offered a clarifying lens through which the Bible was received, pondered, and interpreted.

Scripture for the Eyes takes stock of the forms, functions, and meanings of the printed images through which this most crucial of books, newly available in vernacular and Latin editions, came increasingly to be read as a living source of religious truth. Following early modern usage, the prints_woodcuts, engravings, and etchings by such artists as Lucas van Leyden, Jan Swart van Groningen, Maarten van Heemskerck, Philips Galle, Hendrick Goltzius, and Hieronymus Wierix, among others_are classed into five functional groups: “Sacred History and Geography,” “Exegesis,” “Worship,” “Morality,” and “Politics and Polemics.”

Author biographies

Dr James Clifton is director of the Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation and Curator in Renaissance and Baroque Painting, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. He is the co-author of Elegance and Refinement: The Still-Life Paintings of Willem van Aelst (2012) and A Portrait of the Artist, 1525–1825: Prints From The Collection of the Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation (2005).

Dr Walter S. Melion, Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Art History at Emory University, is the author of Shaping the Netherlandish Canon: Karel van Mander’s “Schilder- Boeck” (1991) and The Meditative Art: Studies in the Northern Devotional Print, 1550–1625 (2009).

Table of Contents

  1. Foreword by Ena Giurescu Heller
  2. Acknowledgements
  3. Preface by James Clifton
  4. Bible Illustration in the Sixteenth-Century Low Countries by Walter S. Melion
  5. Notes
  6. Catalog by James Clifton, Walter S. Melion, Merel Groentjes, Todd Martin Richardson, Jamie Smith, and Wendy Thompson
    Sacred History and Geography
    Politics and Polemics
  7. Catalog notes
  8. References
  9. Bibliography
  10. Photographic Acknowledgements
  11. Index