La Sainte Bible

[French Bible].
La Sainte Bible, contenant l’Ancien et le Nouveau Testament traduit en Françoise sur la Vulgate, par Le Maistre de Saci. Nouvelle edition, ornée de 300 figures.
Volume 1 and 10 of twelve.
Paris: Chez Defer de Maisonneuve, 1789-an XII [i.e. 1789-1803/1804]. (AEP7798)

Although publication of this twelve-volume French Bible was initiated in 1789, the first year of the violent and anti-religious period of the French Revolution, the Bible was completed fifteen years later with a luxurious program of 300 illustrations in the neoclassical style. These illustrations were engraved under the direction of Nicolas Ponce (1746–1831) after designs by Clément Pierre Marillier (1740–1808) and Nicolas André Monsiau (1754–1837).

In volume 1, Marillier’s 1789 illustration of God appearing to Moses (Exodus 3:1-6) introduces the unusual motif of God hovering bodily above his earthly manifestation, the Burning Bush. In volume 10, Monsiau’s illustration of 1800 depicting Christ’s presentation to the people by Pontius Pilate (John 19:5) inverts the traditional composition of the scene so that Christ is seen from behind. This effectively reverses the scene’s psychological impact: rather than looking upon Christ from the perspective of the accusing mob below, the viewer sees him from within the judgment hall, an allusion to Pilate’s abdicated judicial responsibility.

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Volume 1

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Volume 10

Eighteenth Century
La Sainte Bible