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Tuesday 28 January 2020

Jacob Andreas Friedrich's engraving, “The Ostrich”, 1731

Jacob Andreas Friedrich Snr. (aka I.A. Fridrich; I.A. Friderich) (1684–1751)
(Note: Friedrich Snr. shares the same first names as his son, Jacob Andreas Friedrich Jr. [1714-1779], who signs his prints: "Jac.Andr. Fridrich”, hence my attribution of this plate to the father.)

“The Ostrich” (aka “Struthio”), 1731, plate CCXLV (245), published by Johann Jakob Scheuchzer (1672–1733) in what is one of the most lavishly produced (and expensive) books devoted to the Bible: “Physica Sacra: Iconibus Aeneis” (Sacred Physics: Smaller Icons), Part 2, pp. 413–416 (2 adjoining pages).

Engraving on laid paper (with watermark) with full margins as published and with the adjoining letterpress text page.
Size: (each page) 35.9 x 22.5 cm; (plate) 31.4 x 20 cm
Lettered on plate at upper-right: “TAB. CCXLV.”
Lettered on plate below the image: (left) “LEVITICI Cap. XI. v. 16. / Struthio.”; (centre) “Pollices Parisini.”; (right) the same text as inscribed on the lower left but written in German.
Inscribed on plate at lower-right corner: "I. A. Friderich sculp.”

See another engraving from this publication at Sanders of Oxford:  

This is one of the original engravings published in the first (1731) edition of Scheuchez’s almost legendary, “Physica Sacra” (Sacred Physics). I use the word “legendary” as very few books were created with such care, expense and with so many engraved illustrations as this extraordinary book.

For those unfamiliar with “Physica Sacra”, this huge publication was based on what we now know to be a flawed premise: Scheuchez believed that he had irrefutable proof that the events described in the Old Testament were all true because he had the fossilised remains of a victim of the Great Flood (see Genesis chapters 6–9). Sadly, when the “fossilised victim” was later examined by the French naturalist Georges Cuvier in 1811, Cuvier's findings revealed that the "victim" was in fact a large prehistoric salamander.

Regarding the biblical reference underpinning this illustration, the New International Version of the relevant passage (Leviticus chapter 11, versus 13 to 19) advises that The Lord commanded Moses and Aaron to tell the Israelites:
(v.13) “The following birds you will reject and will not eat them, because they will be considered unclean animals: the eagle, the bearded vulture, the sea eagle, (14) all kinds of kites and hawks, (15) all kinds of crows, (16)  the ostrich, the owl, all kinds of seagulls, (17)  the owl, the bird, the swan, (18) the night owl, the pelican, the vulture, (19)  the stork, all kinds of herons, the hoopoe and the bat.” (

Condition: a superb lifetime impression that is richly inked and well-printed. The engraving and its accompanying page of letterpress text is still joined by the glue of publication and, apart from a brown dot at the top edge, both pages are in excellent condition (i.e. there are no tears, holes, losses, folds or significant stains or foxing) with only faint age-toning near the edges.

I am selling this very full composition showing an ostrich’s skeleton, organs and an egg layered like a precursor to today’s embedded digital illustrations and hypertext—a veritable ornithologist’s treasure trove of visual data—from one of the most lavish publications ever made along with an accompanying page of text for AU$230 (currently US$155.53/EUR141.08/GBP119.11 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world (but not, of course, any import duties/taxes imposed by some countries).

If you are interested in purchasing this remarkable print, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

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