Item of the Week: Boehme and van Luyken mystery volume

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An interesting item crossed our desks today…


Blagochestivago i vysokoprosvi︠e︡shchennago Iakoba Bema, tevtonicheskago filosofa, vsi︠e︡ teosoficheskiaï pisaniaï = Des Gottseligen Hocherleuchteten Iacob Böhmen Teutonici Philosophi alle Theosophische Schrifften.

This is an interleaved collection of Jan van Luyken’s engravings, with their printed explanations, from the 1682 edition of Jakob Boehme’s Theosophische Schriften. The Clark Library purchased this made-up volume in 1961 and it was recently discovered in a small group of books awaiting description. We don’t know the previous owner who added the title page in Russian, but it was designed to accommodate extensive notes and annotations. There is an average of 4 to 6 blank leaves between the engravings and explanations – a perfect place to jot down thoughts inspired by van Luyken’s illustrations. Unfortunately, the previous owners had nothing to say.

According to the bookseller, whom we believe to be a certain Beauchamp, van Luyken was a disciple of Boehme.  “… [the] most interesting aspect is that they were without doubt a source of inspiration to William Blake, himself a student of Boehme’s works. It seems probable that Blake knew this edition of 1682 and found inspiration in the engravings by van Luyken. Indeed his debt to Boehme may have been more to the illustrations that to the text.”

It’s been compared with the bibliography and the images are out of order.  See Buddecke, Werner. Die Jakob Boehme-Ausgaben, ein beschreibendes Verzichnis. Vadiz: Topos Verlag, 1981. Volume 1, no. 1.

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