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Jonah Fleeing the Presence of the Lord

The subject of this plate foreshadows the trials of Jonah, who was sent by God to preach to the heathen citizenry of ancient Nineveh. Jonah, however, attempts to resist his calling by hopping a boat in Joppa with the intention of fleeing to Tarshish. The round classical temple and statue of a goddess to the left may represent the sins of the city Nineveh, seen in the far distance. Jonah points directly at the boat on the right, which will take him to his destiny. Its distinctive figurehead includes a carving of an elephant’s head, a traditional symbol of modesty and chastity and a possible reference to the water-bound trials of Noah. In later states of the print, the artist removed the visage of God and replaced him with a Tetragram, a common change to appease the Calvinists, who objected to human representatives of the divine. Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art’s collection has all four prints in this series (Eskenazi Museum of Art 98.302.1–.4).

Hieronymus Wierix
Flemish, 1553–1619
after Marten de Vos the elder
Flemish, 1532–1603
Jonah Fleeing the Presence of the Lord, Plate 1 from The Story of Jonah
ca. 1585
Engraving on paper
Image/plate: 7 7/16 x 9 7/8 in. (18.9 x w. 25.1 cm); sheet: 10 9/16 x 14 7/16 in. (26.8 x 36.7 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Collection of Diether Thimme, 98.302.1