Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Joshua's hens

Writing notes and family trees in Bibles is a very common activity, but it is rare to come across examples of sketches and drawings, especially when they appear to have nothing to do with the accompanying text.

This page of lively pen-and-ink hen sketches appears in an English Bible of 1577 opposite the first page of the book of Joshua. The Bible appears to have been owned by members of the Taylor and Fitton families, various members of which mark their ownership at intervals throughout the book. In a separate inscription on the New Testament title page, one Samuel Taylor writes: "God give him gra[ce] on ito looke that he may run A happay race and heaven may be his dwelling place".

The little hens seem most likely to have been the work of Robert Taylor, probably a young son of John Taylor who owned the book in the 1660s. Sharp-eyed readers may also be able to spot the image of a tiny leaping horse which appears in the top left hand corner of the opposite page (by clicking on each image you may view a larger version).