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Last updated: 1/25/2017
Home / Gallery Tour 1 / Old Master Drawings and Prints / Gallery Tour 2 / Artists
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Biblical Images in Old Master Prints and Drawings: Noah and the Deluge

Biblical Subjects / Mythological Subjects / Allegorical Subjects / Historical Subjects

Adam and Eve / Noah / Lot and his Daughters / Joseph / Samson / Jephthah and his Daughter
David / Judith / Esther / Susanna and the Elders
De Vos Old Testament Women 1 / De Vos Old Testament Women 2 / De Vos New Testament Women
The Virgin Mary / Mary Magdalen / The Woman taken in adultery / The Crucifixion / The Lamentation / The Resurrection
The Last Judgment
The story of Noah is essentiallythe story of God's repenting and man's inability to repent: "And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God. And Noah begat three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. . . . And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die. But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons’ wives with thee. And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female. Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive. And take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten, and thou shalt gather it to thee; and it shall be for food for thee, and for them. Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he"  (Gen. 6:5-22).
Jan Sadeler (Antwerp, 1550-1600), Wickedness and Violence on Earth (TIB 7001: 038). Engraving after Maarten de Vos, c. 1586. A very good impression on laid paper trimmed on or within the plate mark. Inscribed on the plate: "Sadeler auctor et sculp ex: (lower left); Martin de Vos figur" (lower left); "Gens 6" center. Sadeler was a prolific engraver and an important print publisher in the Low Countries. Image size: 205x270mm. Price: $1750.
Jan Sadeler (Antwerp, 1550-1600), God appearing to Noah (TIB 7001: 039). Engraving after Maarten de Vos, c. 1586. A very good impression on laid paper trimmed on or within the plate mark. Inscribed "Ioan Sadeler auct: et scalpt: Martin de Vos figurauit " (lower left); "Genesis capit: 6" center. Image size: 210x270mm. Price: $1750.
Jan Sadeler (Antwerp, 1550-1600), The Deluge (TIB 7001: 042). Engraving after Maarten de Vos, c. 1586. A good impression on laid paper trimmed on or within the plate mark. Inscribed on the plate: "I Sadeler auctor scalps: et excud." (lower left); "Gens 7" center"; M. de Vos figurauit" lower right. Several stains in the area of the inscription. The seated woman on the right with hands clasped in prayer and a swaddled baby upon her lap, reminding viewers of the many similar images they might have seen of another mother trying to care for her infant, is at least vaguely unsettling; where would be if another flood had drowned another young mother and her child? On the other hand, it also reminds us that till the advent of that other mother and her child there will be no rescue from the deluge for anyone. Image size: 199x270mm. Price: $1550.
Jan Sadeler (Antwerp, 1550-1600), Bodies carried away by the Deluge (TIB 7001: 043). Engraving after Maarten de Vos, c. 1586. A very good impression on laid paper trimmed on or within the plate mark. "J Sadeler auctor et scalptor excudit. M de Vos fig" (lower right); "Genes 7" center." Slight soiling in the inscription area lower right. Image size: 210x270mm. Price: $1650.
Cornelis Cort (Netherlandish, 1533-1578), God instructing Noah to build the Ark (New Holl. 3 iii/iii. TIB 52: 004). Engraving after Maerten van Heemskerck, c. 1560. Plate 1 of The Story of Noah (6 plates). Inscribed "M. Hemkerck invent / CIVisscher excudebat" (lower left); Cor. Cort fcit" (lower left center); "I" (lower left). First published by Hieronymus Cock, ours is a strong impression with large margins from an edition published by Nicolaes (Claes) Jansz. Visscher (Amsterdam, c. 1587-1660?). The most significant change was the replacement of an image of God in the first two editions with a circle of light with a Hebrew inscription, but the plate was reworked before printing. The Visscher edition was used in the Theatrum Biblicum (1643) and the Grooten figur-bibel (1646). Image size: 203x249mm.
Cornelis Cort (Netherlandish, 1533-1578), The animals boarding the ark (New Holl. 4 iii/iii. TIB 52: 005). Engraving after Maerten van Heemskerck, c. 1560. Plate 2 of The Story of Noah (6 plates). Inscribed "Hemkerck inventor" (lower left); "CIVisscher [interlinked] excudebat" (lower left center); "Cor. Cort fe / 2" (lower right). First published by Hieronymus Cock, ours is a good impression with large margins from an edition published by Nicolaes (Claes) Jansz. Visscher (Amsterdam, c. 1587-1660?). The plate was reworked before printing. The Visscher edition was used in the Theatrum Biblicum (1643) and the Grooten figur-bibel (1646). Image size: 203x251mm. Sold only as a set of six. Price:
Cornelis Cort (Netherlandish, 1533-1578), The Deluge (New Holl. 5 iii/iii. TIB 52: 006). Engraving after Maerten van Heemskerck, c. 1560. Plate 3 of The Story of Noah (6 plates). Inscribed "CIVisscher [interlinked] excu" (lower left); "Martin Hemskerck inve." (on rock, lower left center); "Cor. Cort fec" in the text line, lower right; "3" (lower right). First published by Hieronymus Cock, ours is a good impression with large margins from an edition published by Nicolaes (Claes) Jansz. Visscher (Amsterdam, c. 1587-1660?). The plate was reworked before printing. The Visscher edition was used in the Theatrum Biblicum (1643) and the Grooten figur-bibel (1646). Image size: 202x250mm. Sold only as a set of six.
Cornelis Cort (Netherlandish, 1533-1578), Noah thanking God for the Ark's deliverance (New Holl. 6 iii/iii. TIB 52: 007). Engraving after Maerten van Heemskerck, c. 1560. Plate 4 of The Story of Noah (6 plates). Inscribed "Cor. Cort fe" (lower left-center); "Martinus van Hemskerck inven / Visscher ex. 4 " (lower right). First published by Hieronymus Cock, ours is a good impression with large margins from an edition published by Nicolaes (Claes) Jansz. Visscher (Amsterdam, c. 1587-1660?). The most significant change was the replacement of an image of God in the first two editions with a circle of light with a Hebrew inscription, but the plate was reworked before printing. The Visscher edition was used in the Theatrum Biblicum (1643) and the Grooten figur-bibel (1646). The biblical text behind this engraving seems fairly straightforward: "And God spake unto Noah, saying, Go forth of the ark, thou, and thy wife, and thy sons, and thy sons’ wives with thee. Bring forth with thee every living thing that is with thee, of all flesh, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth; that they may breed abundantly in the earth, and be fruitful, and multiply upon the earth" (Gen. 8:15-17). Image size: 202x250mm. Sold only as a set of six.
Cornelis Cort (Netherlandish, 1533-1578), Noah thanking God for the Ark's deliverance (New Holl. 7 iii/iii. TIB 52: 008). Engraving after Maerten van Heemskerck, c. 1560. Plate 5 of The Story of Noah (6 plates). Inscribed "MH [interlinked] inuentor" (lower left-center), "Cor. Cort fec (center); " "5" (lower right in inscription). First published by Hieronymus Cock, ours is a strong impression with large margins from an edition published by Nicolaes (Claes) Jansz. Visscher (Amsterdam, c. 1587-1660?). The most significant change was the replacement of an image of God in the first two editions with a circle of light with a Hebrew inscription, but the plate was reworked before printing. The Visscher edition was used in the Theatrum Biblicum (1643) and the Grooten figur-bibel (1646). The biblical text behind this engraving anticipates the final plate in the series: "And Noah went forth, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons’ wives with him: Every beast, every creeping thing, and every fowl, and whatsoever creepeth upon the earth, after their kinds, went forth out of the ark. And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done" (Gen. 8: 18-21). Although only the righteous man and his family were saved, evil remains in the world for it lies within the heart of man, as Milton reminds his audience in the first of his Divorce tracts: "Many men, whether it be their fate, or fond opinion, easily perswade themselves, if God would but be pleas'd a while to withdraw his just punishments from us, and to restrain what power either the Devil or any earthly enemy hath to work us woe, that then man's Nature would find immediate rest and releasement from all Evils.  But verily they who think so, if they be such as have a mind large enough to take into their thoughts a general survey of human things, would soon prove themselves in that Opinion far deceiv'd.  For though it were granted us by divine Indulgence to be exempt from all that can be harmful to us from without, yet the perverseness of our Folly is so bent, that we should never lin [cease] hammering out of our own hearts, as it were out of a flint, the seeds and sparkles of new Misery to our selves, till all were in a blaze again." Image size: 202x249mm. Sold only as a set of six.
Cornelis Cort (Netherlandish, 1533-1578), The mocking of Noah (New Holl. 8 iii/iii. TIB 52: 009). Engraving after Maerten van Heemskerck, c. 1560. Plate 6 of The Story of Noah (6 plates). Inscribed "Cor. Cort fec (left-center); " "Martinus van Hemskerck / 6" (lower right in inscription); "CIVisscher [interlinked] excu." lower left in text area. First published by Hieronymus Cock, ours is a strong impression with large margins from an edition published by Nicolaes (Claes) Jansz. Visscher (Amsterdam, c. 1587-1660?). The most significant change was the replacement of an image of God in the first two editions with a circle of light with a Hebrew inscription, but the plate was reworked before printing. The Visscher edition was used in the Theatrum Biblicum (1643) and the Grooten figur-bibel (1646). The story of Noah ends with a curious incident: "And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan. These are the three sons of Noah: and of them was the whole earth overspread. And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father’s nakedness. And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him. And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant" (Gen. 9:18-27). Noah, the only righteous man, passes out drunk and is mocked by the son of one of his sons, while his two other sons protect him from embarrassment. In Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel ceiling, the first thing that a viewer sees upon entering the chapel is the drunkenness of Noah, the last is God creating. Noah's drunkenness seems to function as a kind of relapse from justness to sinfulness, a conclusion emphasized by the punishment of Canaan, who mocks the drunken Noah and is cursed to become the servants of his uncles through history as a result. Image size: 202x249mm. Sold only as a set of six.
Cornelis Cort (Netherlandish, 1533-1578), Noah thanking God for the Ark's deliverance (New Holl. 7 iii/iii. TIB 52: 008). Engraving after Maerten van Heemskerck, c. 1560. Plate 5 of The Story of Noah (6 plates). Inscribed "MH [interlinked] inuentor" (lower left-center), "Cor. Cort fec (center); " "5" (lower right in inscription). First published by Hieronymus Cock, ours is a strong impression with large margins from an edition published by Nicolaes (Claes) Jansz. Visscher (Amsterdam, c. 1587-1660?). The most significant change was the replacement of an image of God in the first two editions with a circle of light with a Hebrew inscription, but the plate was reworked before printing. The Visscher edition was used in the Theatrum Biblicum (1643) and the Grooten figur-bibel (1646). Image size: 202x249mm. Another impression apart from the complete set.

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