|Artist||after I. Bakewell|
|Dimensions||Image 350 x 250 mm, Plate 375 x 265 mm, Sheet 465 x 300 mm|
A copy in slightly larger scale of Carington Bowles' scarce eighteenth century allegorical and moral engraving of the 'Hieroglyphicks of the Natural Man.' Inscription above image, from the Gospel of Luke, reads: 'Cut it down why Cumbreth it the Ground. Luke 13. Ver. 7'
A tree rooted in 'Unbelief' is standing at the centre, along the bark and branches it reads 'Pride', 'Selfwill', 'Lust of the Flesh', 'Pride of Life' and 'Lust of the Eye'. The tree is being watered by the devil to the left and therefore bears a lot of 'bad' fruit such as 'Adultering', 'Gluttony' and 'Murder'. A snake is resting amongst the branches of the tree and several other snakes as well as some scorpions are scurrying underneath the tree, while a white dove and an angel are seen flying away from the tree. A skeleton is ready to cut down the tree with his axe, the tree stump his right suggests that he has already cut down a similar one. The tree is being struck by lightning symbolising God's 'Wrath' while in the background chaos has erupted. A crowd at the extreme left are about to perish in the fires of Hell, shipwrecks dot the shores of the sea, and several trees have been cut down or ripped from the ground. This scene allegorises The Parable of the Fig Tree in Luke's gospel (Luke 13:6-9) were Jesus preaches "unless you repent, you will likewise perish", telling them about a vineyard owner who did not find any fruit on a fig tree growing in his garden, and how the vineyard owner told his gardener to cut it down. The gardener then argued to keep the tree alive for a little longer while he fertilised it, and that if the tree did not bear fruit after another year, they could cut down the tree. The vineyard owner in this parable refers to God judging his people and Jesus as the gardener, asking his father to spare the sinners a little longer while he spreads God's word.
Ex Coll.: The Hermitage, Hexham, Northumberland.
Condition: Strong clean impression. Thinning, splitting, and minor surface dirt to plate mark. Small tears and chips to margins, not affecting plate. Framed in a period frame.