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Monday 26 February 2018

Jan Luyken’s engraving, “The Plague of Locusts”, 1700

Jan Luyken (Jan Luiken; Jan Luycken; Jan Loiken) (1649–1712)

“The Plague of Locusts”, 1700, illustration for “Exodus” 10:13-15, published by David and Willem Goeree (1635–1711) in “Mosaize Historie der Hebreeuwse Kerke” (Mosaical History of the Hebrew Church).

Engraving on laid paper with margins as published and lined with a conservator’s support sheet.
Size: (sheet) 32.3 x 38.9 cm; (plate) 28.7 x 36.7 cm; (image borderline) 27.5 x 35.8 cm
Lettered above the image borderline: (right) “3 Deel P. 160.”
Lettered below the image borderline: “Moses zyn hand over Egipten uit-strekkende, doet Godt met eenen Ooftenwind, Sprinkhanen over heel het land opkomen; die al het overgelaten kruyd en boomgewas af-eten. Exod.10:13.14.15”

Condition: richly inked, crisp, museum quality (lifetime) impression in near faultless condition with margins as published and laid onto an archival support sheet.

I am selling this large and detailed engraving showing a rare scene of a locust plague for AU$136 (currently US$106.88/EUR86.62/GBP76.14 at the time of this listing). Postage for this print is extra and will be the actual/true cost of shipping.

If you are interested in purchasing this visually arresting engraving that can sustain serious scrutiny, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

From my very limited understanding of the ancient/Old Testament book, “Exodus”, that describes the plague of locusts shown here, this was the eighth plague (of ten) prophesied by Moses as a  “prompt” for the pharaoh, Ramses II (1279-1213 BCE), to release the Jews from slavery and to allow them to leave Egypt. (I realise that my account is probably flawed so please accept my apology if this is the case.)

What I like about this illustration is that Luyken has found the perfect way of showing the distress caused by the locusts (e.g. lots of commotion with people and animals running amok) and ways that the locals dealt with the little horrors (e.g. by drowning, smothering, netting, hitting, burning and stomping on them). Of special interest to me is the way that Luyken has visually “explained” that the tiny specks in the distance are actually locusts/grasshoppers by giving the viewer close up views of them in the immediate foreground. So clever! I must say, however, that the locusts in the foreground seem to be from more than the Acrididae family of grasshopper … but I am not entomologist so I really don’t know.

For those interested in text below the illustration, the following verses from “Exodus” 10:13-15 (King James Version) explains everything:

13 “And Moses stretched forth his rod over the land of Egypt, and the Lord brought an east wind upon the land all that day, and all that night; and when it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts.”
14 “And the locust went up over all the land of Egypt, and rested in all the coasts of Egypt: very grievous were they; before them there were no such locusts as they, neither after them shall be such.”
15 “For they covered the face of the whole earth, so that the land was darkened; and they did eat every herb of the land, and all the fruit of the trees which the hail had left: and there remained not any green thing in the trees, or in the herbs of the field, through all the land of Egypt.”

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