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Continental and Illuminations

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'Swerelts begin, midden, eynde, besloten in den trou-ringh, met den proef-steen van den selven. Dordrecht, voor Matthias Havius. Gedruckt by Hendrick van Esch,

CATS, Jacob
Date: 1637.

Double-page engraved title by Adriaen van de Venne (1589-1662), two divisional titles, portrait of Jacob Cats by W. Delff after M. Miereveld, portrait of the dedicatee Anna Maria Schurmans, 51 half-page engravings by Crispyn van den Queboorn, Adriaen Matham and others after Adriaen van de Venne, Jan Olis and others, woodcut initials, head- and tailpieces, all are superbly hand-coloured and many heightened in white and gold.4to. (238 x 175mm). [22]ff. 772pp.; [4]ff. 136pp. Late 17th century Dutch gilt panelled calf over paste-boards, spine richly gilt in compartments (headcaps and joints rubbed).

First edition of one of the most important and popular works of the famous Dutch poet Jacob Cats (1577-1660), Proefsteen van de Trou-ringh (Touchstone of the Wedding Ring), found here with all engraved titles, portraits, half-page engravings and woodcut initials and vignettes beautifully hand-coloured, almost certainly at the time of binding in the late 17th century.The Trou-ringh and Cat's first work on marriage Houwelijck (1625) were extremely popular books running through many editions and "could be found on the bookshelves of persons of all persuasions... with their many prints they were geared both to the reading abilities of the Dutch and their highly visual culture. The combination of literary form, visual appeal, and moral message guaranteed a broad audience" (W. Frijhoff & M. Spies. Dutch Culture in a European Perspective (2004), p. 28).The miniature compositions of artists such as van de Venne, with so many references to contemporary Dutch culture, are brought to life here by the superb colouring which is expertly applied. The pages that contain illustration have been sized to prevent absorbtion, the colourist has added details to dress interiors and landscape, and ample use is made of gold to heighten the colour as well as white paint or gesso often used to dramatic effect, none more so than in the depiction of the skeleton being warded off by Cupid on p. 709. Very little is known of individual colourists working during the Golden Age, they were not members of a guild, and only one attained any level of recognition, Dirck Jansz van Santen (1637/38-1708), the "master colourist" (Meester Afsetter) of the van der Hem Blaeu Atlas. Although such colourists worked principally on fine atlases they were also commissioned by wealthy collectors to colour engravings found in Bibles, emblem and festival books and other deluxe illustrated works. Master colourists such as Van Santen and our anonymous artist added a specific character to the prints and maps that they worked on, not just a mechanical process of colouring in, and thus their prints became works of art in their own right (see: H. de La Fontaine Verwey, "The Glory of the Blaeu Atlas and the 'Master Colourist', Quaerendo, XI, 1981, pp. 208-229).Cats was a born storyteller, who in this work illustrated his sharp psychological and social insights as easily with examples from the classical world or the Bible as from daily life in the Golden Age. One important example taken from a modern author is Cervantes' La Gitanilla (Novelas Ejemplares, 1613) the tale of a Spanish nobleman marrying a gypsy girl, which appears here for the first time in the Netherlands as "Het Spaens Heydinnetie". Van de Venne's illustration of a standing Don Jan in a large Spanish ruff before a seated Pretiose with Majombe, the gypsy, behind, influenced greatly other Dutch artist's rendering of the subject and came to epitomize the tale in visual terms; it also provides evidence of the connections between Dutch art and contemporary literature (see: Ivan Gaskell, Transformations of Cervantes "La Gitanilla" in Dutch Art, in Journal of the Warburg & Courtauld Instiyute, vol. 45 (1982), pp. 263-70.Provenance: Unidentified circular monogrammed stamp on title-page.Museum Catsianum 153.

Stock Code: CO20085

 

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