Illustration in the Age of Shakespeare

Opening this weekend at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., is an exhibition titled Beyond Words: Book Illustration in the Age of Shakespeare. Curated by Caroline Duroselle-Melish, it includes more than eighty rare books and prints from the fifteenth to the eighteenth century and features woodcuts, engravings, and etchings, some even in color. According to a press release, "The books and prints are from England and a number of European nations, bringing to life the circulation of ideas--both verbal and visual--in Shakespeare's day." Here's a sneak peek at some of the extraordinary illustrations on display:

smPinder_152966 copy.jpgHand-colored images of urine flasks from a 1506 medical guide, meant to diagnose illnesses based on different colors.

smLutherSermon_009416 copy.jpgThe title page of a sermon by Martin Luther printed in Wittenberg in 1522, packed with images of animals, people, and a printing press.

smAbbaGregory_152797 copy.jpgAn intriguing 1691 portrait of an Ethiopian abbot, a rare image of an African scholar of the time.

Beyond Words remains on view through June 3. You can also follow on social media via the hashtag #FolgerBeyond.

Images courtesy of the Folger Shakespeare Library.