Broadside Rebus

Liedensgeschichte des herrn Jesu Christi.
Nuremberg: Georg Nikolaus Renner, [ca. 1840].

Intended for young readers, this rhyming German lithographic broadside narrates the story of Christ’s Passion by means of a rebus, combining printed text and sixty-three hand colored images that stand in for particular words. For example, the first two sentences of the rebus may be translated as: “When [Jesus] came to the [Mount of Olives], he went into the [garden], where greatly distressed and troubled, he began his suffering. He wept [tears] and asked that his [cup] of sorrow be taken away.” The cup is illustrated as a chalice, a fitting prefiguration of the sacramental wine vessel. In one instance on the right half of the broadside, the rebus image is intended to serve as the rhyming conclusion of a sentence: where Jesus yields his spirit into his Father’s hands, the verbal equivalent of the image of two hands (Hände) rhymes with the end of the preceding verse, “sein Leiden bald zu Ende.”