These stunning baroque engravings are by Johann Jakob Scheuchzer (born 1672) and were made from 1731 to 1735. They are the pinnacle of engraving in the baroque period
He believed the Old Testament was a factual account of the history of the world and set out to reconcile the Bible with modern science and prove the existence of God with science. His engravings seek to illustrate this. Many are also embellished with decorative borders with interesting biblical and scientific motifs.
Scheuchzer was a Swiss scholar born in Zürich. He was far sighted and multi-talented - arguably a genius. He was at the forefront of efforts to provide a scientific understanding of the world and the bible. For example, he theorised that fossils were skeletons left over after the biblical flood from which Noah escaped.
Johann's father was the town physician of Zürich. In 1694, Johann took his degree of doctor in medicine and completed his mathematical studies. He was made junior town physician in 1696. In 1710 he also became a professor of mathematics. He created several fascinating works including studies of Switzerland, weather, geology and fossils, but surely his most intriguing and visionary work was Physica Sacra.
As Christies Auction House in London said: "In Scheuchzer's gigantic work, Physica sacra, the Baroque attains, philosophically as well as artistically, its high point and its conclusion". Scheuchzer, a doctor and natural scientist from Zurich, planned the Physica sacra as an explanation of and a commentary on the Bible on natural-scientific grounds. He himself oversaw the illustrations which were largely based on his own natural history cabinet or on other famous European cabinets of rare specimens. He entrusted the central designs to Johann Melchior Füssli and the elaborate borders to Johann Daniel Preissler, and they were engraved by highly skilled engravers including Georg Daniel Heumann and Johann August Corvinus."