Saturday, 1 September 2018

A double-sided pair of engravings, 1627/59, designed by Adriaen van der Venne as illustrations to Jacob Cat’s proverbs




Designed by Adriaen van der Venne (1589–1662)

(Recto: page 135) Plate XXVII “Niet en kander beter passen, als dat t’samen is gewassen” (Nothing fits better, than what grew together), 1627/59

(Verso: page 136) Plate XXIX: “Non te quæsiveris extra” (Do not seek for things outside of yourself), 1627/59

Illustrations to Jacob Cats’ (1577–1660) (known with respect and affection as “Father Cats”) “Proteus”, first published in 1618, and “Sinne- en minnebeelden” (“Portraits of morality and love” or “Images of mind and memory”), first published in 1627. This engraving is from the 1659 edition of “Alle de Wercken van den heere Jacob Cats …” (Complete Works of Jacob Cats), pages 135 (recto) and 136 (verso), with reversed images rendered with finer engraved craftsmanship than the first editions and with engraved illustrations and printed text on both sides (as published).

Double sided letterpress printed page with an engraving recto and verso on laid paper.
Size: (sheet) 37.9 x 21.7 cm; (recto plate) 12.5 x 12.1 cm; (image borderline) 12.1 x 12 cm
Condition: faultless impressions in pristine condition.

I am selling this magnificent, museum-quality leaf for the total cost of AU$187 (currently US$134.55/EUR115.93/GBP103.84 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world (but not, of course, any import duties/taxes imposed by some countries).

If you are interested in purchasing these double-sided engravings of the highest quality, please contact me (oz_jim@printsandprinciples.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold


I suspect that the expressed meaning to the recto engraved illustration, “Niet en kander beter passen, als dat t’samen is gewassen” (i.e. Nothing fits better, than what grew together), may be self-explanatory. After all the hands protruding from the clouds hold two shells of a walnut that clearly do not “fit” together. The inference, however, is not about walnuts but rather about love, in the sense that lovers that spend time together—perhaps even “wassen” (wash) together to conserve water—are perfectly matched for life.

Of course what may seem self-explanatory proverb to one viewer may not be understood the same way by the next viewer and Jacob Cats (affectionately known as “Father Cats” even though he was a grumpy chap) was well aware of this and so he footnoted his illustrated proverbs with (according to the Editors of “Encyclopaedia Britannica”) “text in Dutch, Latin, and French” offering “a threefold interpretation, expressing what were for Cats the three elements of human life: love, society, and religion” (https://www.britannica.com/biography/Jacob-Cats#ref49086)

After having written this rather brief explanation of what I thought was an engraving projecting a “self explanatory” meaning, I read another print dealer’s explanation of what is portrayed which shows that nothing can ever be straight forward:
“This plate #28 [sic] shows someone trying two fit two different shell halfs [sic] to make a whole one. The meaning of this emblem is that the first love in a person's life is to be cherished and even after two or more marriages the first is always special.” (https://www.amazon.com/Antique-Print-SHELL-LOVE-MARRIAGE-Venne-Cats-1655/dp/B00DJSQF3Q). Wow! I guess that I didn’t understand the meaning at all!





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