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"David Wearing the Head of Goliath"

Dory Gustafff

Ever the prankster, Dory Gustafff couldn't help enlivening her boring days as a Bible scene engraver with a bit of visual humor now and then. On occasion her harried master, Elihu Chowder, would fail to note that certain details of a scene had been altered and send it off to be printed, which is how "Balaam's Ass in a Sling," "Adam and Eve and Pinch Me in the Garden of Eden," "Jonah Swallowing the Whale," and "The Eleventh Plague of Egypt: Counterfeit Subway Tokens" managed to slip into Chowder's 1611 Old Testament, much to Chowder's regret, as he was run through his own printing press by free agents of the Inquisition.

The "David" engraving shown here caused Gustafff's own comeuppance, even though it became the most popular Halloween costume of the 1613 season. After losing her place and being blacklisted as an engraver she fell on hard times, as the only work she could get was doing the illustrations for Tijuana Bibles, much less prestigious employment. Her life came to a bitter end in Antwerp in 1622 when a vigilante group of enraged Jews stoned her to death for her illustrations for the Tijuana graphic novel, "David Getting It on with Bathsheba."


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