Gallery of prints for sale

Tuesday 14 August 2018

Emblem illustration to Jacob Cats’ proverb, “Sensim amor sensus occupat” (Slowly sense of love takes over), 1627/59

Circle of Abraham Bloemaert (1564–1651) and Adriaen van der Venne (1589–1662)

“Sensim amor sensus occupat” (Slowly sense of love takes over), 1627/59, illustration to Jacob Cats’ (1577–1660) (known with respect and affection as “Father Cats”) “Proteus”, first published in 1618, and “Sinne- en minnebeelden” (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 11–12, with reversed image rendered with finer engraved craftsmanship than the first editions and with printed text on both sides (as published).

Engraving on fine laid paper with letterpress text recto and verso.
Size: (sheet) 35.5 x 20.9 cm; (plate) 12.3 x 12.8 cm; (image borderline) 12 x 12 cm

Inscribed on plate within the image borderline: (on tree trunk) “Crescent illæ / crescetis amores” (They grow love); (on pumpkin/marrow) “Phyllida amo / ante alias.” (Phyllida I love / before alias.)
Numbered and lettered above the plate: (left) "12"; (centre) “SENSIM AMOR SENSUS OCCUPAT. / VI.”
Lettered in two columns below the plate: “’tNeemt toe, men weet niet hoe. …” ("It's important, people do not know how. …)

Condition: faultless impression in pristine condition.

I am selling this magnificent, museum-quality leaf for the total cost of AU$187 (currently US$135.82/EUR119.16/GBP106.36 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this superb engraving of the highest quality, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

                                                   This print has been sold

My interest in the emblem prints associated with Jacob Cats—affectionately called “Father Cats” by the Dutch—is a sad story. What happened is that a couple of years ago I set out on a personal mission to visit the rather small church named, Kloosterkerk, in The Hague (Belgium), where Jacob Cats is supposed to be buried. The reason that my story is sad is not that I failed to find his burial site in the church, but that when I asked a very helpful church attendant where the great writer was buried I was first asked where I was from and on replying, “Australia”, I was then quizzed as to why any Australian would have an interest in the great writer … to which I answered with eyes bulging and truly shocked that "ALL Australians know about Father Cats as his proverbs are EVERYWHERE!" Mmm … a little bit of a stretched truth but I did discover that what remains of marvellous Jacob Cats is only a commemorative plaque on a column. Now that is VERY sad!

My understanding of this illustration and the accompanying text on the page is a synthesis of commentary explanations offered by the “Emblem Project Utrecht” ( and from tonight’s after-dinner conversation with our family polymath. The short version is that image shows the memory of a chap (hence the clouds around his hand) cutting the name of his lover, Phyllis (Phyllida)—the Greek name for leafy foliage or green bough—into the trunk of a lime tree. Over time the lover sees that his carved lady-love’s name grows in size as the tree “heals” itself in a similar way that his love has also grown. Interestingly, the growth of such an inscription on a tree does not “grow” higher but rather grows wider following the radial expansion of the trunk.

I should mention at this point that there are significant additional meanings, such as the moral imperative to parents to ensure that their vices are not introduced to their children or the vices will grow like the proverbial marks on trees shown here.

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