The Birth of Christ: from the Gospel According to Saint Luke. Waltham Saint Laurence, Berkshire, England, 1925
Printed at the Golden Cockerel Press, 1925. Engravings by Noel Rooke (1881-1953).
Rooke was an influential teacher at the Central School of Art and Crafts in London. He was a founder of the Society of Wood Engravers (formed in 1920). Between 1918 and 1939 wood-engraved printing experienced a revival in Britain and Europe. The Golden Cockerel was among the most prominent of the private presses in England during the boom in fine printing in the inter-war period. The book designers frequently embraced a modern style, in contrast to the medieval and Renaissance tastes of the Kelmscott Press and its followers.
This modern, stylistic example strips the figures out of the traditional scene. Here again we see the lily in Gabriel’s hand. Mary is not cloaked, she appears very plain, but with her arms lifted- seeming as though to show her strength. The page around her is decorated with roses and grape vines. The grape vine is often used as a symbol of Christ as Savior, alluding to the Blood of Christ.