Benjamin West. “The Witch of Endor.” From Thomas Macklin’s Bible. London: T. Macklin, July 4, 1797. Engraving by R. Shipster. 12 x 10. Very good condition.
Religious prints were produced throughout the eighteenth and early nineteenth century with fine engraving, showing biblical themes, religious allegories, and the like. One of the most impressive sets of such prints came from Thomas Macklin’s Holy Bible, issued between 1792 and 1800. This sumptuous work, the largest English Bible ever printed, included 70 large engravings after a number of important artists, including Philippe Jacques de Loutherbrough, Joshua Reynolds and Benjamin West. Macklin said the publication was to promote “the glory of the English school’ of painting and engraving and ‘the interest of our HOLY RELIGION.” For the project Macklin hired the best English engravers, commissioned leading artists for paintings, in all taking almost a decade and costing him about 30,000 pounds. While he died on October 25, 1800, before the entire project was finished, Macklin did manage to see the last of the engravings finished just five days before his death. These are wonderful examples of this tremendous English publishing project.