This image forms one of a sequence of 153 plates illustrating the Gospel stories, first published separately in 1593, then with a commentary in this edition, commissioned by Geronimo Nadal at the instigation of Saint Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus (1540). Nadal was one of the first ten members of the order, and Loyola’s personal representative. Where Protestant evangelism emphasized access to the Word of God through vernacular translation, the Jesuit focus was on creating striking images to allow a universal understanding of the Gospel, an outlook which this work was instrumental in forming. Nadal not only selected the scenes but ensured that all the cutting edge technological developments in illustration were brought to bear in their portrayal. The new methods of perspective drawing were incorporated into each scene, increasing their realism and heightening their drama. Furthermore the recently developed techniques of scientific illustration were used, here demonstrated by the labelling of the various aspects of the scene with a key below, and also by the use of a diagrammatic cutaway view. With tools like these the Jesuits could proselytize in foreign cultures, and indeed a copy of this work was used in China by Matteo Ricci.
Donated by Humphrey Gower.