Caleb and Axa
Color Engraving after Henry Singleton

This item is sold.  It has been placed here in our online archives as a service for researchers and collectors.

Caleb et Axa sa Fille
Henry Singleton (1766-1839) (after)
A. Zaffonato (engraver)
Caleb et Axa sa Fille [Caleb and Axa, his daughter]
Paris: c. 1800
Color-printed stipple engraving, finished by hand
20.5 x 24.5 inches, sheet
16 x 20 inches, image
Sold, please inquire as to the availability of similar items.

Caleb firsts appears in the Bible in the book of Numbers, when he and Joshua are among the spies sent by Moses to explore the Promised Land of Canaan, and they are rewarded for their faith in God by being the only adults among the band of Israelites that left Egypt who were eventually permitted to enter the Promised Land. After the 40 years of wandering in the desert passes, Caleb is 85 years old, and Joshua assigns Hebron to him as his portion. In Joshua 15:13-19, Caleb chases some of the inhabitants from the area, and then marches against Kiriath-sepher, announcing that he will give his daughter Achsah (as it is rendered in English Bibles) to the man who attacks and captures it. His kinsman Othniel the Kenizzite succeeds and Achsah marries him.

The print illustrates the story of Achsah coming to visit her father Caleb after she has been given to Othniel, as told in Joshua 15:18-19 (as well as in Judges 1:12-15). She dismounts from her donkey, "and Caleb asked her, 'What is the matter?' She replied, 'Give me a present; for you have given me away as Negeb-land (i.e. as dry land, without a dowry); so give me springs of water.' An he gave her Upper and Lower Gulloth.'" (The Holy Scriptures, Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1985)

Henry Singleton was an artist in London. He achieved early success, exhibiting at the Royal Academy for the first time while still a student there, and winning a gold medal for a painting while only 22 years old. He continued to exhibit there throughout his life, and is probably best known for a commissioned group portrait of the Royal Academicians assembled in council, an important work that remains on display at the Academy. Singleton was especially known for his paintings after Biblical and literary sources, as well as for portraits, and depictions of contemporary events.  Throughout his life he also completed a series of some 90 paintings based on Shakespeare.  Many of his paintings were issued as mezzotints and engravings and achieved widespread popularity.  He also worked regularly as a book illustrator.  His works today are in the collections of the British Museum and the Tate Gallery among others, and his portrait of writer John Boswell is in the Edinburg National Portrait Gallery.


"Henry Singleton," The Grove Dictionary of Art. New York: Macmillan. 2000. (2 November 2004).

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