Biblia Pauperum: A Fifteenth-Century Blockbook

1st Edition

Avril Henry

Published October 29, 1987
Reference - 178 Pages
ISBN 9780859675420 - CAT# Y284182

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The Biblia Pauperum, neither a bible nor a book for the poor as its title suggests, is a medieval picture book that pairs Old and New Testament scenes as a way of showing that events in the past were divinely intended to foreshadow the future. It is a blockbook, printed in its entirety - text and pictures - from woodblocks. This version of the Biblia Pauperum, commonly regarded as the most beautiful, dates from around 1460 and was widely distributed throughout German and French speaking Europe. Avril Henry's edited transcription of the original Latin, and her extensive introduction, commentary, and bibliography, make this central medieval work accessible for the first time to the English speaking non-specialist; the facsimile edition will enable the modern reader to recapture the fifteenth-century reader's experience in using the blockbook. It contains forty central New Testament scenes, or Antitypes, that tell a highly selective version of the story of God's relationship with man. Each scene is flanked by two prefigurations, usually from the Old Testament, and an accompanying Latin text. Revealing a wealth of complex verbal and visual design, this edition will enhance our understanding of medieval culture, Christian iconography, and the history of Western art and literature. Only by understanding the system of thought which the Biblia Pauperum typifies can we grasp the full meaning of much Christian art, including the west fronts of our cathedral, the great scheme of stained glass in King's College Chapel, Cambridge, and even the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. It is also fundamental to an understinging of literary forms such as medieval drama. Readers interested in medieval history, art history, religion, and manuscript studies will welcome this volume.

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