[The Tower of Babel]

Method Copper engraving
Artist Jan Luyken
Published [Amsterdam, c.1705]
Dimensions Image 282 x 645 mm, Plate 292 x 655 mm, Sheet 325 x 695 mm
Notes An impressive panorama of the construction of the Tower of Babel, engraved by Jan Luyken for Willem Goeree's De Kerklyke en Weereldlyke Historien. Luyken's representation of the tower itself, still in its earlier stages of construction in the left side of the image, is clearly inspired by Brueghel's famous painting of 1563, itself heavily indebted for its circular arcaded appearance to the Colosseum in Rome. The upper registers of the tower are covered in a complex arrangement of scaffolds. In the plain of Shinar around the tower, humanity toils with zeal towards the completion of their great creation. In the foreground, the various stages of brickmaking are shown, from working the clay to stacking the sundried bricks in preparation for firing. Brick kilns send up plumes of smoke and flames across the vastness of the space, while teams of labourers with camels and horses carry loads of bricks to the tower. Settlements, small towns, and tented camps are dotted about the scene, while in the top right corner, a river meanders before the mountains. Although there are many interpretations of the Babel story, the most popular historical attribution for the tower was the great ziggurat of Marduk in Babylon, making the river likely to be a representation of the Euphrates.

Inscription below image reads: Ende het geschiede als sy tegend't Oosten togen, dat sy een Leegte vonden in den lande Sennaar; en tot malkanderen sieden; kom-aan laat ons Tichelen stryken en wel Doorbranden; en laten wy een Stadt en Toren Bouwen, wiens opperste in den Hemel zy; Gen. XI.

Jan Luyken (1649-1712) was a Dutch painter and etcher active in Amsterdam. His father and one of his sons, both of whom were called Kaspar, were also engravers. A pupil of Cornelis Decker, his best known works were the Martelaersspiege, or Martyr's Mirror, as well as the Het Menselyk Bedryf, or Book of Trades.

Willem Goeree (1635-1711) was a Dutch publisher, printer, and bookseller, born in Middelburg and active in Amsterdam. His best known works were predominantly art historical or theological, though he also printed works of natural history, general history, and scientific and mathematical treatises.

Condition: Printed on two sheets and then joined vertically to right of central fold. Some misalignment to join, as issued. Pressed vertical folds, as issued. Puncture to bottom of left margin on platemark, without loss to image. Minor tears to tops and bottoms of folds, not affecting plate. Minor time toning and text offsetting. Blank on verso.
Framing unmounted
Price £475.00
Stock ID 50849