Vintage Religious Illustration Gallery

Vintage religious illustration, Rebekah at the Well, Old Testament

Vintage religious illustration of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries reflected widespread curiosity about the historic “Holy Land.”

During the Golden Age of Illustration (1880-1920), popular American and British magazines regularly carried stories and articles about religious sites in the Middle East.

Artists often were called upon to interpret passages from the Bible or illustrate descriptions of the early Christian epoch.

Old Testament stories, the history of Judaism, and early Muslim and Hindu literature were all subjects of interest, particularly in America, the land of immigrants.

Many artists considered a journey to the Holy Land a requirement for a well-rounded art education.

Illustrators, sketchbooks in hand, traveled across Egypt, Palestine, and Syria in search of historic places and buildings. Others toured Europe, creating careful depictions of ancient Celtic ruins, medieval cathedrals, temples, and mosques.

Still others focused on the rich pageantry of religious ceremonies and processions.

In America, these illustrations often took the form of churches and local religious customs and folk-lore. All of the great illustrators of the era produced religion-themed art at one time or another.

Their interpretations of religious subjects have become stereotypes that resonate today; Howard Pyle's New England snow-bound churches, William Ladd Taylor's renditions of the life of Jesus, Norman Rockwell's small-town Christmas and Thanksgiving holidays.

Check the Image Galleries for more examples of vintage religious illustration.

Flight into Egypt, W.S. Stacey vintage religious art, Jesus working in the Carpenter's Shop, W.S. Stacey

Above left: Vintage magazine illustration by W. S. Stacey, "Flight into Egypt." Above right: Illustration by W. S. Stacey, "Jesus Working in the Carpenter's Shop."

Golden Age illustration of Chicester Cathedral Vintage illustration of the Mosque of Shah Hamadan, Srinagar, Kashmir, 1911

Above left: Chicester Cathedral, England, 1910. Above right: Mosque of Shah Hamadan, Srinagar, Kashmir, by Edward Molyneux, 1911.

Vintage magazine cover, Violet Oakley, 1908.

Magazine cover, Violet Oakley, 1908: "Ask now the beasts and they shall teach thee and the fowls of the air and they shall tell thee."

The Shadow of a Great Rock, William Ladd Taylor, 1923

Magazine illustration, William Ladd Taylor, 1923: "As an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the the shadow of a great rock in a weary land." Isaiah xxxii, 2.

The Shadow of a Great Rock, William Ladd Taylor, 1923

Magazine illustration, William Ladd Taylor, 1915: "Rebekah Comes to Isaac," Genesis xxiv:61-67

Tombs of the Caliphs, Cairo, Egypt, F. Dillon, c.1904.

Above: Vintage religious illustration, "Tombs of the Caliphs,
Cairo, Egypt," by F. Dillon, c.1904.

For high-resolution, royalty-free religious images you can download, visit the Palma Collection at Fotosearch.

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