Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Luyken and The Martyrs Mirror

1685 frontpiece

The Martyrs Mirror by Tieleman Jansz van Braght was first published in 1660 in Dutch and titled "The Bloody Theater or Martyrs Mirror of the Defenseless Christians who baptized only upon confession of faith, and who suffered and died for the testimony of Jesus, their Saviour, from the time of Christ to the year A.D. 1660". I read in passing that it was a reworking and elaboration of another account of early christian martyrs from the first half of the 17th century.

Burning of William White, an English priest from Norwich (1428)

The most famous edition of this 1200 page tome was released in 1685 and was accompanied by 104 copper engravings by Mennonite Jan Luyken (or Luiken) that depicted hanging, burning, torture, beheading, crucifixion, boiling and on and on - a veritable artistic encyclopedia of inhumanity. The book records the stories and prison accounts of the deaths of 800 mainly Anabaptist and Mennonite martyrs - the defenseless in the title refers to the Anabaptist belief in non-resistance.

Luyken was greatly influenced by the writings of Jakob Böhme and produced up to 3000 mostly religious engravings during his life. He was a well known poet also and songs or poems often accompanied his engravings. His other famous accomplishment, completed with the assistance of his son, was the engraving of illustrations for the 1694 publication, Het Menselyk Bendryf or Book of Trades, portraying occupations from the late 17th century.

Blandine, half-roasted on a grill and thrown to the wild bulls (AD 172)


Anonymous said...

Luiken’s book of trades is one of those scanned in full at the Herzog August Bibliothek’s site.

peacay said...

Thanks very much for that. I got intrigued about the Trade book reading around and was very disappointed that the posted site only had photocopy quality. The attention to detail must have made this book a rich source of study in probably a number of ways.

peacay said...

Herzog is amazing. I must have seen it sometime but only in passing. Wow.

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