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Boehme tree man with spiralling serpent
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adammclean
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 Posted: Mon Nov 7th, 2011 11:24 am
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I recently came accross this image on a web site. It is apparently an engraving illustrating one of Jacob Boehme's books.

Does anyone know the source for this image?

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JacobB2.jpg

Paul Ferguson
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 Posted: Mon Nov 7th, 2011 11:51 am
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http://www.ritmanlibrary.nl/c/p/exh/cre/cre_her_08.html


But note:

"...the image, which was added to this copy of Mysterium Magnum", so presumably taken from somewhere else. I will continue searching.

Last edited on Mon Nov 7th, 2011 11:57 am by Paul Ferguson

adammclean
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 Posted: Mon Nov 7th, 2011 01:08 pm
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Sadly one cannot contact the BPH at the moment.

This is obviously an engraving from a book, as at the top right we see "Pag. 18 A." or something similar.

Paul Ferguson
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 Posted: Mon Nov 7th, 2011 03:26 pm
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Paul Ferguson wrote:
http://www.ritmanlibrary.nl/c/p/exh/cre/cre_her_08.html


But note:

"...the image, which was added to this copy of Mysterium Magnum", so presumably taken from somewhere else. I will continue searching.



By 'copy' I assume they mean 'edition', this being the 1682 Gichtel edition of the complete works.

Paul Ferguson
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 Posted: Mon Nov 7th, 2011 03:31 pm
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Interesting to compare this with representations of Aion, the Mithraic deity of time:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/vrocampo/3915869465/

adammclean
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 Posted: Mon Nov 7th, 2011 03:48 pm
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Paul Ferguson wrote:

By 'copy' I assume they mean 'edition', this being the 1682 Gichtel edition of the complete works.



I am familiar with the 1682 Gichtel and I cannot recall seeing this image. Indeed, it is so striking that I am sure I would have remembered it in the Gichtel. So I am assuming that it was tipped into the copy of the Gichtel that the BPH eventually acquired. I will check the online version of the Gichtel to make sure.

adammclean
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 Posted: Mon Nov 7th, 2011 03:50 pm
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Paul Ferguson wrote:
Interesting to compare this with representations of Aion, the Mithraic deity of time:


Yes the Orphic Greek Phanes also is represented in this form.

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Paul Ferguson
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 Posted: Mon Nov 7th, 2011 03:52 pm
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adammclean wrote:
Paul Ferguson wrote:

By 'copy' I assume they mean 'edition', this being the 1682 Gichtel edition of the complete works.



I am familiar with the 1682 Gichtel and I cannot recall seeing this image. Indeed, it is so striking that I am sure I would have remembered it in the Gichtel. So I am assuming that it was tipped into the copy of the Gichtel that the BPH eventually acquired. I will check the online version of the Gichtel to make sure.


Is that an engraver's monogram in the bottom-right corner or just a discoloration of the paper?

Also does Adam and Eve's baldness shed any light on what artistic milieu this engraving might have been produced in?

Last edited on Mon Nov 7th, 2011 04:04 pm by Paul Ferguson

adammclean
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 Posted: Mon Nov 7th, 2011 04:23 pm
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One thing that drew me to the image was the metamorphosing of the central figure into a tree. This reminded me of Antonio Pollaiuolo's well known painting of Apollo and Daphne (late 16th Century), based on Ovid's 'Metamorphoses'.

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Paul Ferguson
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 Posted: Mon Nov 7th, 2011 11:26 pm
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I fail to see how the central figure can be Adam as identified in the Ritman description. Adam is on the left. The central figure seems to have Freyer Wille (Freier Wille, Free Will) written vertically on his body, so I assume this is a symbolic representation.

Slightly off-topic, but here's an interesting collection of Edenic serpents in Western art collected by Dr. Shuker:

http://karlshuker.blogspot.com/2011/03/bipedal-snake-in-garden-of-eden-what.html

adammclean
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 Posted: Tue Nov 8th, 2011 07:55 am
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Paul Ferguson wrote:
I fail to see how the central figure can be Adam as identified in the Ritman description. Adam is on the left.


Of course, it does not make symbolic sense otherwise. The central figure is some personification of the tree in human form. Eve holds an apple and Adam is on the left.

The woodcut by Jost Amman from Jacob Rueff, De conceptu et generatione hominis, Frankfurt, 1587, a century earlier than this engraving, also makes the tree appear as a human form, but here as a skeleton.

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Paul Ferguson
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 Posted: Tue Nov 8th, 2011 03:38 pm
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The quotations are from the apocryphal Sirach (Ecclesiasticus), e.g. top right-hand corner:


Es ist keine List ├╝ber Frauenlist (Sirach 25.18 Luther 1912)... und kein Kopf so listig wie der Schlange Kopf (Sirach 25.21 Luther 1912).


And the wickedness of a woman is all evil... There is no head worse than the head of a serpent.

adammclean
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 Posted: Tue Nov 8th, 2011 03:45 pm
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You can see the division horizontally into a light filled region around Adam and a dark shadowy region around Eve. The central figure has half his body light, while the other side is dark. We also see it appears to be a hermaphrodite as the left side, towards Eve bears a feminine breast. Also demonic wings are seen sprouting from the shoulder on the dark side.

Adam points to the spiritual light in the middle of the tree, while Eve is picking apples and holding one out to Adam. Interestingly, she does this with her left (sinister) hand.

I wish I could find a better quality scan of this image.

Last edited on Tue Nov 8th, 2011 03:52 pm by adammclean


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