Leaf from a Medieval Bible


Until the development of movable type printing in the West in the 15th century, books were copied by hand. Parchment (prepared animal skin) was the usual material until paper came into common use. The Bible was among the most-copied and deeply studied texts. This leaf, from a Bible copied in Italy in the mid-13th century, [...]

“Yucca Aloifalia,” from Les Lilliacées


Jean-Pierre Redouté was born in Saint-Hubért in what is today Belgium. He came from a family of painters and decorators, and left home at age 13 to pursue painting. In 1782 he made his way to Paris, where he was introduced to many aristocrats. In Paris he moved toward botanical illustration and became official draughtsman [...]

Jersey Coin


Celtic coins began as stylistic copies of Greek coins. As coinage moved throughout the rest of Gaul from Greek outposts on the Mediterranean, the styles abstracted to fit the current Celtic aesthetic. The Gauls were Celtic groups living in France before Roman conquest, and had social and governmental systems in place that were just as [...]

Les Martyrs du Japon (The Martyrs of Japan)


The Christian faith was first introduced into Japan in the sixteenth century by Jesuit and later by Franciscan missionaries. By the end of that century, there were probably about 300,000 baptized believers in Japan. This strong beginning met reverses though, brought about by rivalries between different groups of missionaries and political intrigues by the Spanish [...]

Landscape with Cow Drinking


Rembrandt van Rijn is generally considered one of the finest painters and printmakers in Europe and the most important in Dutch History. He is most remembered for his intimate self-portraits and biblical scenes. Although there are prints from nearly every year of Rembrandt’s artistic career, this etching was likely created in the 1630s when he [...]

The Triumph of Mordecai


This print depicts the story of Mordecai, a main figure in the book of Esther in the Hebrew Bible. Here Rembrandt has shown Persia’s celebration of Mordecai’s victory over Haman. Haman was a vindictive court official. After Mordecai refused to prostrate himself before Haman, Haman decided to murder every Jewish exile as punishment. When Mordecai [...]