Biblia Veteris Testamenti

Biblia Veteris Testamenti – Orbis Pictus –

Frankfurt am Main (Germany) — 1551

Each of the more than 400 pages that illustrate this picture Bible: masterful, colored copperplates and woodcuts by Sebald Beham, the student of Albrecht Dürer

  1. This gorgeously illustrated work presents biblical scenes in sophisticatedly colored woodcuts

  2. It contains illustrations by the master Sebald Beham, an apprentice of Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528)

  3. His fantastical copperplates and woodcuts caused a stir among his contemporaries

Biblia Veteris Testamenti

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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Biblia Veteris Testamenti

The Biblia Veteris Testamenti et Historie artificiosis picturis effigiata was printed in Frankfurt am Main in March of 1551. The gorgeously illustrated work present biblical scenes in sophisticatedly colored woodcuts, which make the religious narrations perceptible. The extraordinary quality of the book is bespoken not only by the illustration of the work, but also by its high-quality binding.

Biblia Veteris Testamenti

In the year 1551, a book was printed in Frankfurt am Main bearing the full title of Biblia Veteris Testamenti et Historie artificiosis picturis effigiata. This book originated from the first print shop in Frankfurt, namely that of Christian Egenolff. The Biblia Veteris is a thrillingly illustrated Bible in four parts. The first part of the Bible contains the Old Testament, the second the New Testament, the third the Book of Revelation, and the fourth the Martyrium Christi. All four parts were furnished with high-quality miniatures, which reflect the religious text with unusual precision and in gorgeously luminous colors.

A Convincing Composition

The Biblia Veteris is a work of extraordinary quality. The book’s elaborately designed binding already leaves a lasting impression on every beholder. It consists of two thin wood boards, which are bound together with hand-dyed brown goatskin. The leather was embellished with decorative floral and figural patterns in shimmering gold. Two brass clasps round out the high-quality impression of the work. The first three parts of the Bible were composed according to an ingenious system. A biblical scene is pictured in the middle of each page. The title of this biblical scene is found about the picture in Latin, and in German below. The pictures consist of vivid woodcuts of excellent quality, which also make the biblical tales completely understandable and perceptible even without text.

Masterful Work from Fankfurt

The Biblia Veteris Testamenti was printed in Frankfurt am Main in March of 1551, which can be accounted for by a date stamp in the document. They were printed in the publishing house of Christian Egenolff. Egenolff was the founder of the first publisher in Frankfurt and was responsible for the printing of 500+ books, an impressive count in the Late Middle Ages. Most of the prints from the Egenolff publishing house contained illustrations by the master Sebald Beham, who also illustrated the Biblia Veteris. Beham, who was originally from Nuremberg, was one of the greatest painters and copperplate engravers of his time. Researchers assume therefrom that he attained his artistic training in the workshop of Albrecht Dürer. His fantastical copperplates and woodcuts caused a stir among his contemporaries and were a source of indignation for some. In the year 1529, he was suspected of disseminating pornography and was expelled from the city of Nuremberg. Thereupon he went to Frankfurt, where he created ca. 270 copperplates and 300 woodcuts for Bibles and chronicles. The pictures of the Biblia Veteris were initially printed in black and white and were colorized in the 17th century. Their convincing expressiveness was further strengthened by the interesting play of color.


Alternative Titles
Biblia Veteris Testamenti et Historie artificiosis picturis effigiata
Size / Format
440 pages / 16.3 × 11.5 cm
Artist / School

Available facsimile editions:
Biblia Veteris Testamenti – Orbis Pictus –
Orbis Pictus – Pelplin, 2012
Limited Edition: 299 copies
Detail Picture

Biblia Veteris Testamenti

Saint Sebastian

Saint Sebastian was a Roman soldier who rose through the ranks to become one of the captains of the elite Praetorian Guard during the reign of Diocletian. He kept his Christianity a secret, but his forbidden faith was uncovered in 286 and he was subsequently condemned, tied to a tree in a field, and shot full of arrows. He miraculously did not die, was healed, and returned to rebuke the Emperor, but this woodcut condenses the events and shows him still riddled with arrows.

Biblia Veteris Testamenti – Orbis Pictus –
Single Page

Biblia Veteris Testamenti

Calming the Storm

Jesus performed two miracles on the Sea of Galilee: walking on water and the episode referred to as calming the storm. Sleeping in the stern of the boat, Jesus is roused by the disciples and calms the winds with the phrase: “Peace! Be Still”. He then rebukes the disciples for their lack of faith, for believing that Jesus would allow any harm to befall them.

This dynamic and chaotic woodcut is an excellent example of the book at hand: it is a masterfully executed engraving that has been given bright colors allowing each figure to be clearly identified. The stylized waves undulating alongside the boat are particularly fine. Identical captions appear above and below the work in Latin and German respectively, as they do throughout the book.

Biblia Veteris Testamenti – Orbis Pictus –
Facsimile Editions

#1 Biblia Veteris Testamenti

Orbis Pictus – Pelplin, 2012

Publisher: Orbis Pictus – Pelplin, 2012
Limited Edition: 299 copies
Binding: The book is bound with boards dressed with goatskin hand-dyed brown. A strickle and beautiful knurl were used to decorate the binding with golden floral and figural motifs on the covers. Both boards are fastened with brass clasps. A date, 1552, is stamped on the front cover, it probably indicates the date the binding was made.
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Price Category: €€ (1,000€ - 3,000€)
Edition available
Price: Log in here!
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