Thursday, December 29, 2005

The Biblia Sacra of 'Petit' Bernard Salomon

"Perhaps no name is more intimately associated with the renaissance of French book illustration than that of Bernard Salomon, foremost designer for the publisher Jean de Tournes of Lyon. Working for de Tournes, Salomon's works intersect with the intellectual, religious and cultural concerns of mid-16th-century France."
The Tower of Babel

The 2nd Plague - Frogs infest Egypt

Pairs of animals are gathered into Noah's ark

Jonah is spat (out) of the whale
"The hundreds of illustrations to the Old and New Testaments ... among many other works Salomon designed, initiate new iconographic and stylistic traditions by recasting earlier formulations into a new, popular, yet elegant idiom."

The handwriting on the wall

Daniel is thrown into the lion's den

Gideon (Jerubbaal) routs the Midianites

The above woodcut images are from the Old Testament and are among 198 illustrations contributed by Bernard Salomon to the 1558 version of the Biblia Sacra that are displayed on the Vivarium website - the online digital collections of St John's University and the College of St Benedict. (20 pages of thumbnails)

The 'Petit' refers to the intricate detail Salomon works into his designs at small scale. Although it seems difficult to identify all the book images that he produced in that he didn't sign his work and much of it was reworking of older illustrations or was itself reproduced by other woodcut artists, Salomon contributed woodcuts for Alciato's famed Emblemata* and designed the images for a mid-16th century book on Ovid's Metamorphosis among other things. [*Most likely this will have been in one of the large number of republications that followed the 1531/1534 originals - certainly Salomon was a leading emblem book illustrator]

The quotes above come from an unfinished PhD dissertation - The woodcuts and art of Bernard Salomon - begun 40 or so years ago (!) by Robert A. Baron who has posted his 'work in progress' online.

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