Saturday, April 16, 2016

1400s - 1600s Biblical Gardens - Bathsheba Bathing


“David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king's house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon." (2Sam 11:2, King James Version)

Bathsheba 1498 Bathing in a Court Garden, from the Hours of Louis XII, 1498–99, Jean Bourdichon. J. Paul Getty Museum, Ms. 79, recto

Bathsheba becomes David’s wife, after he sees her bathing & has her husband Uriah killed; she becomes Solomon’s mother & helps him take the throne after David’s death.

Bathsheba 1400s Printed Bible, Nuremberg.

In the Bible, gardens were located, if possible, beside a river or fountain, Genesis 13:10 Numbers 24:6. In other places reservoirs were provided, from which the water was distributed in various ways, as occasion required, Proverbs 21:1 So 4:12-16 Isaiah 58:11.  Springs were popular in gardens, often opening into a square pool or trough from which water could be drawn for garden irrigation or even washing laundry. Spring-heads and streams could supply pools for drinking from, washing in, or even keeping fish in. The most popular depiction of outside bathing was Bathsheba.

Bathsheba Secret Garden 1498 from the Hours of Louis XII, 1498–99, Jean Bourdichon. J. Paul Getty Museum, Ms. 79, recto. 

In the earlier Medieval garden, a Hortus Conclusus was an enclosed garden representing or containing a religious allegory. Biblical gardens often were surrounded by hedges of thorns (Isaiah 5:5) or by walls of stone (Proverbs 24:31). "Watch-towers" or "lodges" were also built in them (Isaiah 1:8; Mark 12:1), in which their keepers sat. Because of their seclusion, gardens in the Bible frequently were used as places for secret prayer and communion with God (Genesis 24:63; Matthew 26:30-36; John 1:48; 18:1, 2). 


Bathsheba 1508 bathing in a garden and a male messenger, from the Book of Hours of the Vasselin Family, Harley Manuscript. 2969, f. 91, British Library.

In the Bible, gardens and groves were often furnished with pavilions, seats, etc., and were used for banqueting and mirth, Isaiah 51:3; for retirement and meditation, & John 18:1; for devotional purposes, Matthew 26:30 John 1:48 18:1,2.


 Bathsheba 1513 Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) Illustration for The Knights of Turnbull



Bathsheba, surrounded by her servants, portrayed bathing in a formal, geometric garden with grottos, fountains, and peacocks in background from the 'Icones Biblicae' published by Mathias Merian in Frankfurt before 1630. 


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