Collection ID



Bible - Printed Book




Wittenberg, (Germany)




Printed on Paper


7.09 × 5.12 × 1.97 in. (18 × 13 × 5 cm)

Exhibit Location

On View in The History of the Bible, Revolutionary Words

Martin Luther published his initial Old Testament translation in parts. He completed the first portion, consisting of the first five books of the Bible, in 1523 under the title Das Alte Testament deutsch. This 1524 edition was printed by Melchior Lotter in Wittenberg, Germany. It contains thirteen brilliantly colored illustrations made from woodcuts by Georg Lemberger, some in what is known as Fürstenkolorit. In this type of illumination, the woodcuts are colored and heightened with gold, suggesting this Bible was created for an aristocrat. Only ten copies of this edition are known to exist. Moreover, sixteenth-century prints showing Fürstenkolorit are extremely rare.

Printed in 1524 by Melchior Lotter, Wittenberg, Germany. Acquired in the 1920s by Robert Wölfle, Munich, Germany (d. 1943);Bequest in 1943 by Christine Grahamer, Munich, Germany;[1] Purchased in 2012 by Dr. Jörn Günther Rare Books AG, Stalden OW, Switzerland; Purchased in 2013 by Green Collection, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Donated in 2016 to National Christian Foundation (later The Signatry) under the curatorial care of Museum of the Bible, Washington, DC.[2]

Notes: [1] Christine Grahamer is the granddaughter and successor of Robert Wölfle (d. 1943). Ms. Grahamer did not know, or tell, where her grandfather bought it. Email from Marion Hanke, November 2019 (Dr. Jörn Günther Rare Books AG). See also the 2011 obituary of Grahamer’s mother, Dr. Lotte Roth-Wölfle: [2] A search submitted to Art Loss Register did not match any items currently in their database (November 10, 2017; Ref: S00129924).

Select References:

Formatting the Word of God: The Charles Caldwell Ryrie Collection: An Exhibition at Bridwell Library, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, October 1998 through January 1999 (Dallas: Bridwell Library, 1998).

A. Schramm, Die Illustration der Lutherbibel (Leipzig: Karl W. Hiersemann, 1923).

Isabel Christina Reindl, Georg Lemberger. Ein Künstler der Reformationszeit. Leben und Werk (Phd diss., University of Bamberg, 2006).

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