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Old Testament Illustrated: Genesis 1-2

By: Ardis E. Parshall - March 18, 2010

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In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.


Edward Burne-Jones

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God divides the light from the darkness
Raffaello Sanzio

And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.


Michelangelo

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Edward Burne-Jones

And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.


And God called the dry land earth

And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the third day.


Edward Burne-Jones

And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.


Raffaello Sanzio

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Michelangelo

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Edward Burne-Jones

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And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.


Fifth day of Creation

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Paul Bril

And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

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Frans Snyders

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.

These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens, and every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground. But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground. And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.


Michelangelo

And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.


Jan Brueghel

And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads. The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; and the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone. And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia. And the name of the third river is Hiddekel: that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is Euphrates. And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.


Edward Burne-Jones

And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; and the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.


G.F. Watts

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G.F. Watts

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G.F. Watts

And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.


Edward Burne-Jones



15 Comments »

  1. How fun.

    Comment by Steve C. — March 18, 2010 @ 7:38 am

  2. Looking forward to this series as it develops.

    The Frans Snyders picture of the animals has to be early 1800′s I’m guessing. The giant war-horse, old-fashioned lines of the greyhound, and (?)lion off to the right are so typical of art from this period.

    Comment by Clark — March 18, 2010 @ 9:08 am

  3. Beautiful, classic art — conveys more depth & feeling. Thanks for posting these.

    Comment by Clair — March 18, 2010 @ 10:42 am

  4. Great pictures. I was not at all familiar with Edward Burne-Jones, so I looked at wikipedia which has a nice writeup and lots of his other work, much of it in color. His style for some reason reminds me of He also did a lot of stained glass work in the 19th century. Nice find. Were the Burne-Jones works all from the same source, or were they used in a number of different publications?

    Comment by kevinf — March 18, 2010 @ 11:31 am

  5. kevinf, they were all in the same work, a book that was in the LDSU library at the turn of the century according to the bookplate (LDS University is the one that was directly across the street from the Salt Lake Temple where the Relief Society building and gardens are today). Illustrations in books like that couldn’t have had as direct an impact on great numbers of church members as ones that were used in church manuals and magazines, but it was the kind of book located in the kind of library where it was probably carefully reviewed by the LDS artists and art students of that generation.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — March 18, 2010 @ 11:44 am

  6. Edit FAIL. I just noticed that in # 4 I left a sentence fragment floating in there. I meant to say that “His style for some reason reminds me of LDS artist James Christensen, but without the whimsy”. Others may not see the comparison the same way, so I thought I had deleted that sentence.

    Comment by kevinf — March 18, 2010 @ 12:18 pm

  7. I totally see what you mean with the reference to James Christensen! The shiny orbs, the unusual proportions to bodies, the exquisite detail in the feathered wings, the figures that are at once realistic and fantastical — that’s Christensen all over.

    Steve, Clark, Clair, I’m glad you like this. As you can guess, there are a LOT of posts coming, and I hope you don’t get burned out on them. At last check in every once in a while on segments when you recognize that a story you like is apt to have been illustrated.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — March 18, 2010 @ 12:29 pm

  8. Stunning! Yes, the Burne-Jones caught my attention the most. Some of the figures sorta reminded me of those by Klimt (but that probably just reveals my ignorance of art history).

    Anyhow, thanks for sharing. I look forward to see the rest as they come along.

    Comment by Hunter — March 18, 2010 @ 1:40 pm

  9. I’m really surprised by the inclusion of Burne-Jones! Scandalous!

    Comment by Mina — March 18, 2010 @ 7:25 pm

  10. How so, Mina? (I’m not afraid of scandal, but I wanna know just how daring I am!)

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — March 18, 2010 @ 8:12 pm

  11. I like the Burne-Jones images too. They look like they were part of a greater whole.

    Comment by Bruce Crow — March 18, 2010 @ 9:10 pm

  12. Really great, Ardis. Thanks.

    Comment by m&m — March 18, 2010 @ 11:43 pm

  13. A quickie lesson on the scandal of the Pre-Raphaelites:

    “The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood” were a group of mid-Victorican British painters, poets, artisans and writers. Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais were some of the first members, but a number of artists eventually became associated with their particular aesthetic ideas including Edward Burne-Jones, William Morris, Algernon Charles Swinburne, Christina Rossetti, Ford Madox Brown, and many others.

    Both in the work and in their personal lives, the Pre-Raphalites scorned and flouted convention. They rejected the aesthetic conventions of Victorian painting, looking back to medieval culture for inspiration (hence, their name: a rejection of the mannered aping of renaissance art they felt characterized Victorian convention). But, their rebellion went further: they also wished to create a new kind of society. They rejected the ugliness, conformity and mass production of post-industrial revolution Europe (William Morris and the Arts and Crafts movement fits in here) and the debased living conditions industrial capitalism had created for most of humanity (again Morris, but also the strong socialist streak in many of the pre-raphaelites).

    But what really got up the nose of the Victorian public was the pre-raphaelite’s attitude towards women. They held them to be equals (although in a perhaps more limited sense than a contemporary feminist would) allowing them the sexual freedoms of men, training and ecouraging them as artists in their own right, and treating their models with fairness and dignity. The women they used as models often lived with their families, employed as nannies or grinding paints or some sort of dignified employment rather than being tossed back into the street.

    The relationships between husbands and wives were at times pretty fluid, but always out in the open with the full knowledge of all involved. Victorian society saw them as shocking and immoral libertines, they saw themselves as living lives more honest and caring than the typical male double-standard of wife at home/brothel visits at night.

    And they championed a completely new standard of feminine beauty. They replaced the delicate featured, rose-bud mouthed, tiny, blonde ideal Victorian woman with images of tall, large bodied, strong browed and RED HAIRED women! Google Jane Morris and you’ll get the picture. Dark women! Women with womanly shapes! Undemure women! (Even the Burne-Jones figures pictured here display the standard straight brow and largish nose and full lips of the pre-raphaelite feminine ideal)

    And they had the effrontery to actually paint religious subjects! Sometimes using these “manly” women! Sometimes using androgynous male/female blends! Sometimes they used realistic and not idealized looking men and women! Charles Dickens denounced John Everett Millais’ “Christ in the House of His Parents” as making the Holy Family look like drunken slum dwellers.

    And sometimes, I hope you’re sitting down, using women as models for…Christ. William Holman Hunt’s famous painting “The Light of the World” was painted using a female model for the face. Although its since become a beloved and conventional representation of the Christ, at the time it’s subtle androgyny caused more than a little discomfort.

    Of course, by the time these Burne-Jones figures were reprinted here, all this had receded in public memory. Still, it gave me a mischievous chuckle to find the work of a member of such denounced and controversial group here. It really speaks to a kind of ecumenical aesthetic that seems to have disappeared from contemporary lds publications (at least as far as I know).

    Comment by Mina — March 19, 2010 @ 1:06 pm

  14. I adore the work of Pre Raphaelites, maybe because I have red hair :-) Looking forward to seeing more of their work, and wonder what it says about how times have changed that their work was used back then.

    Comment by Anne (U.K) — March 21, 2010 @ 6:04 am

  15. The Burne-Jones angels are fabulous. I must try and find them in colour! I too love the Pre-Raphaelites, which is probably why I quite like J.Kirk Richards’ angels.

    Comment by Alison — March 22, 2010 @ 10:53 am

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