Woodcut, hand colored with watercolor
Support: Cream(3) laid paper
Sheet: 26.9 x 38.8 cm (10 9/16 x 15 1/4 in.)
John L. Severance Fund 1986.91
Edition: probably Schreiber III or IV
Look at the excessive use of black paint on the facade of the building in the scene of Esau Selling Jacob his Birthright. Did the colorist imply an intentional shadow on the building, or did he employ the black paint to cover up an accidental spill?
This hand-colored leaf is from the blockbook Biblia Pauperum (Bible of the Poor), which served as an educational handbook for laymen and clerics. Blockbooks, in which images and text were carved in relief from a single block of wood, are the earliest form of printed text in Europe. On each page, two Old Testament episodes flank a New Testament scene, implying a connection between the stories. At left is Christ’s baptism between the Pharaoh’s drowned army and spies returning from Canaan. To the right is Christ’s temptation bordered by Esau selling his birthright to Jacob and the temptation of Adam and Eve.
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