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The Bernard-Picart Collaboration: the First Global View of Religion

1723 to 1743
From vol. 2 of Picart.

From vol. 2 of Picart.

Between 1723 and 1743 Dutch bookseller and publisher Jean-Frédéric Bernard of Amsterdam published Ceremeonies et coutumes religieuses de tous les peuples du monde in seven small folio or large quarto volumes plus two supplementary volumes, with an allegorical frontispiece representing all the religions of the world, and over 266 plates by French engraver Bernard Picart

The Bernard-Picart collaboration was the most famous encyclopedic work on religion of the 18th century. It was later called the first global vision of religion. The publisher, Jean-Frédéric Bernard, compiled this work from many sources, including the writings of R. Simon, J. Abbadie, Dupin, Thiers, P. le Brun, Boulainvilliers, Reland, Banier, Mascrier, Du Tilliot, etc.; the illustrations were prepared by Bernard Picard, described by Benezit as “le représantant le plus remarquable de la gravure hollandaise du premier tiers du XVIIIe siècle, influence par l’École française.” The first seven volumes described and illustrated in detail the various religious customs, ceremonies and costumes of both the ancient and modern world: the first and second volumes dealt with the Jews and Roman Catholics; the third with the religions of the Americas and India; the fourth with the Protestant religions; the fifth with Protestants and Greek Orthodox; the sixth with Anglicans, Quakers and Anabaptists; and the seventh with Islam, African religions and the religions of the Far East. Two supplementary volumes entitled Superstitions anciennes et modernes (1733-36) contained descriptions and illustrations of religiously oriented rites and festivities such as the Greek Bacchanals, the worship of Priapus, carnival, etc. The remaining two volumes discussed the superstitions of the world.

Between 1733 and 1739 Picart's work was translated into English and published in seven volumes in London by William Jackson for Claude du Bosc as Ceremonies and Religious Customs of the World. The English edition included 233 engraved plates. 

Brunet I, 1742. Cohen-De Ricci 134-35. Hunt, Jacob, & Mijnhardt, Bernard Picart and the First Global Vision of Religion (2010).

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