The Revelation of Saint John the Divine

D’Arbeloff, Natalie.
The Revelation of Saint John the Divine
Llandogo, Monmouthshire, United Kingdom: Old Stile Press, 1999. (BRA0574)

Printed in an edition of one hundred fifty, this copy, given to the library by Decherd Turner, is number 25 and is signed by the artist.

Natalie d'Arbeloff (b. 1929) conceived and designed thirty-eight black and white drawings with collage for The Revelation of Saint John the Divine. Each drawing was printed by Nicolas McDowall on sheets folded concertina-style, allowing images and text to flow into one another. The sequential nature of a book is appealing to D’Arbeloff as you “have more scope in which to express ideas visually.”

The shown opening, representing the four horsemen (Chapter 6) contains elements of the source text that are collaged into and form part of the image. D’Arbeloff wanted to convey a sense of disorientation that the prophet would have experienced during the vision. The difference in scale of the text in relationship to the printed page is evident in that it can be the background, float over the top, or become the focal point. The black and white ground on the left-facing page gives substance to the third beast with the face as a man and to the mass of eyes representing “full of eyes within.” The imagery of the ground is more forceful and dynamic on the right-facing page under the horses’ hooves, adding to the “noise of thunder.”

Each figure of the four horsemen is illustrated with their respective imagery: the bow and a crown, the great sword, and the pair of balances. Your attention is drawn to the words emphasized, such as the “moon became as blood” and “this name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him.” Every spread in the book shows the text as imagery technique masterfully, such as the words from Revelation 21 where the letters connect to form facial features or in Chapter 10 where d’Arbeloff wove text into a rainbow effect.

Natalie d’Arbeloff is a British American painter, printmaker, book artist, cartoonist, and writer. She started NdA Press in 1974 to produce hand-printed books using etching and other techniques. Her one-of-a-kind books are found in major collections internationally, including the V&A Museum, the British Library, the National Libraries of Wales and Australia, and the Library of Congress.

Natalie d’Arbeloff, interviewed by Arvid Nelsen and Rebecca Howdeshell, September 25, 2019.

The Revelation of Saint John the Divine