Preface to the Book, In the Shadow of the Innocents
An Animal Rights Article from


David Gerow Irving
December 2017
Author of The Protein Myth

[In the Shadow of the Innocents will be published mid 2017]

gabriel von max
Abelard and Heloise by Gabriel von Max

The painting for the cover of In the Shadow of the Innocents titled Abelard and Heloise was done by the artist Gabriel von Max. He was born in 1840 in Prague and died in Munich in 1915. Max studied in Prague, Vienna, and Munich. Internationally renowned and controversial in his day, he was both a Darwinist and a Theosophist occupied with science and the occult. In his paintings he explored themes of love, death, and religion. The Frye Art Museum in Seattle, Washington held a solo exhibition of his work in 2011.

Famed for paintings like The Anatomist, Christian Martyr on the Cross, and The Vivisector, Max was also renowned for his paintings of monkeys. He kept as many as 14 in his home and loved to paint them as humans such as the representation here of the legendary 12th century lovers Abelard and Heloise.
Max was active in European anti-vivisection campaigns and in 1883 expressed his opposition to animal research in his painting The Vivisector.

gabriel von max
The Vivisector by Gabriel von Max

In the painting, a beautiful, young woman, symbolizing virtue, holds a puppy she has rescued from the vivisector in one hand, and in the other a scale on which the human heart decisively outbalances the brain. The vivisector, an old man, looks on befuddled to have had the puppy taken from him by some unidentifiable source. About the painting, Max wrote the following:

It was a profound conviction that led me to paint The Vivisector in 1883…The painting depicts a modern, unfeeling physiologist who, as if enjoying a quiet Sunday afternoon, has just fettered a live spaniel to his “scientific torture rack” in order to cut through the nerves of its spinal cord and observe the animal’s pain. However, the prodigy of compassion snatches away the fatally injured little dog from the astounded scholar and demonstrates with the scales that a golden heart carries more weight in the sight of God than a golden brain.

It is illuminating to observe that the conditions Max deplored in the Vivisector still endure more than a century later. Animal researchers continue to put animals on their torture racks and cut through the nerves of their spinal cords oblivious to the pain and suffering they cause their victims. We can only imagine what kind of painting Gabriel von Max might paint today were he to learn that the gruesome animal experiments which went on in his day and which he abhorred so much continue with almost no restraint in modern times. Would his painting be one of hope or a paining of despair?

Read entire Preface here (PDF).

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