Depictions of Old Testament scenes.
Prophecies, histories, legends and law was an exhibition presenting thirty-five master drawings and prints depicting stories and figures of the Hebrew Bible, from Adam and Eve to David and Goliath. These are stories that lie at the heart of three world religions and are the link between Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
The exhibition showcased some of the most outstanding works on paper from the Christ Church collection, above all one of the rarest and most exquisite old master drawings in existence, The Meeting of Jacob and Rachel by the Flemish artist Hugo van der Goes (1437-82). This large composition depicts one of the most important love stories of the Old Testament – symbolising the origins of the twelve tribes of Israel.
Other highlights included Albrecht Dürer’s (1471 – 1528) woodcuts of Adam and Eve and an intense miniature print by Hans Sebald Beham (1500-50) of the same topic, dramatising the sexual awakening of the first couple. The intriguing story of Lot and his daughters, the only survivors of Sodom and Gomorrah, is represented in a drawing by Hans Speeckaert (c. 1530-77) and in more detail in a group of prints by the German Renaissance artist Heinrich Aldegrever (1502-61).
There were drawings showing the story of Joseph, including the dramatic depiction of Joseph fleeing from the unwanted advances of Potiphar’s wife, designed by the Italian Baroque artist Camillo Procaccini (1551 – 1629). Seven works in the exhibition show scenes from the life of Moses – among them two excellent renderings of the Crossing of the Red Sea by the Florentine Mannerist master Angelo Bronzino (1503-72).
The works of art in the exhibition were depictions of biblical stories showing the creation of Adam and Eve, the expulsion from paradise, the great flood, Noah and the ark, Moses in the desert, David and Goliath, Susanna and the Elders and many more. They should not be mistaken as mere illustrations or pictures for the illiterate. The drawings and prints are independent creations offering visual translations and new interpretations of the texts.
Albrecht Dürer (1471 – 1528)
The Expulsion from Paradise
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