From Worldly to Heavenly Life: The work of Dutch engraver and poet Jan Luiken

Dutch engraver and poet Jan Luiken (1649-1712) made approximately 3,336 etchings. Most of his etchings were used to illustrate nearly 500 books by other authors in a wide range of fields.  Additionally, he wrote and illustrated one book of poetry and eleven “emblem books.” In these emblem books, Luiken paired a symbolic image with explanatory text, intended to teach religious messages. Luiken’s work combined disparate ideas, including Protestant and Catholic iconography, word and image, and the commonplace with the sacred in order to “raise  . . .  attention from worldly to heavenly life.”

To commemorate the 300th anniversary of his death, the exhibit on display in the Durham Reading Room from July 2 to September 30, 2012 celebrates Luiken’s life and work with a collection of materials created by Luiken and held by Pitts Theology Library’s special collections, in addition to examples of his work that continue to be published and distributed today.

Pitts Theology Library would like to thank Josephine V. Brown, John Roth, and Joe Springer for their assistance with the exhibit. 

For detailed information on the life and work of Jan Luiken, please see the biography of Luiken (PDF), written by Josephine V. Brown.

Call Number: 1758Luik
Title: Des menschen begin, midden en einde : vertoonende het kinderlyk bedryf en aanwasch in eenenvyftig konstige figuuren, met goddelyke spreuken en stichtelyke verzen / door Joannes Luiken ; met het leven van den autheur
Author: Luiken, Jan, 1649-1712
Physical Description: [34], 103, [7] p. : ill. ; 17 cm. (8vo)
Geographical Region: Netherlands--Amsterdam
Time Period: 18th century
Date Published: 1758

The volume above is one of Luiken's emblem books, People’s Beginning, Middle and End. The emblems and texts tell the story of human life, from birth to death. Several images from the volume follow. Please click on each image for more information and PDF versions.

1. The Infant Carried

2. The Harness

3. The Walker

4.The Cradle

5. The Little Child Protected

6. The Pinwheel

7. The Little Flute

8. The Drum

9. The Little Child Goes to School

10 The Child Goes to Bed