Who would have thought that these sensuous figures are illustrations to the Bible?
The clue to this particularly Victorian deluge is the two cows heading off stage left, presumably towards the ark, while the family in the foreground are assumed to be sinners who are not going to make it. The single dog I can't explain.
This is a page from an edition of the Bible that itself appears never to have seen the light of day. One copy, in average condition, is preserved at the Victoria and Albert Museum and I was able to view it recently and confirm that it is the source of our print. It was to be published by the "Illustrated Bible Society" of which no trace remains. The book, some 40cms high, struck me as a kind of poor-man's William Morris.
The Kelmscott name means class and an unlimited budget, but this Bible, although conceived along similar lines, was in every way inferior, with its ordinary reproductions and a mean binding that was too weak for the size of the book.
Here are the front cover and title page. It is hard to capture in a photograph but the rather flimsy paper quality is perhaps apparent in the title page which crinkles and bows all over the place.
Jorge Luis Borges, the Argentine writer, said that heaven would be a kind of library and for me it would, to be specific, be the National Art Library at the V&A.