Category Archives: Bookseller’s choice

Bookseller’s Choice: a book that ended the friendship between August Comte and the Utopian Socialist Saint-Simon. Click on “Booksellers Choice” in the menu bar to find the book and its history.

One of the most prolific illustrators of Dutch 17th-century emblem books

VENNE, ADR. VAN DE. Tafereel van de Belacchende Werelt [Tableau of the Ridiculous World], en des selfs geluckige Eeuwe, Goet Rondt, Met by-gevoegde Raedsel-Spreucken, aen-geweven in de Boer-Achtige Eenvoudigheit, op de Haegsche Kermis. Verçiert met Konst-rijcke Af-beeldingen. In ‘s Graven-Hage, Gedruckt voor den Autheur, ende by hem ende syne te koop, op de Turf-Marckt, inde drie Leer-Konsten, 1635. With engraved additional title, large woodcut allegorical vignette on letterpress title, 12 fine half page engravings in the text. (16), 280 pp. 4to. Nineteenth-century half calf, spine gilt with raised bands, label with gilt lettering, marbled boards.

                                                                                                                                                 € 2500

Hollstein XXXV nos. 438-445.

First edition of this humorous depiction of 17th-century life in The Hague by the great Dutch painter, Adriaen van de Venne. The fine frontispiece and plates were engraved following his drawings by Daniél van Bremden, Pieter de Jode the Younger, Pieter Serwouters, and others. Several of the engravings had appeared the previous year in van de Venne’s Sinne-droom, also published in The Hague. Van de Venne was one of the most prolific illustrators of Dutch 17th-century emblem books, most notably those composed by Jacob Cats. There are two issues of page 1: one spells “krijghen” in line 3, the other “krijgen” (as here).

This is a beautifully illustrated “mirror” of Dutch seventeenth-century life. Based upon genre scenes at the annual The Hague Fair, van de Venne captured attitudes and human behaviour that were designed as a guide for proper manners and morals. The work (the title is sometimes also translated as “Scenes of the Laughable World”) comments on the attractions and various types of visitors at the famous annual fair in The Hague and is probably the best example of his work as an author, as well as including some of his finest book illustrations. The theme is explored largely through the device of a dialogue between the young farmer Tamme Lubbert (Soft Johnny) and his sweetheart. They comment on the attractions and visitors at the famous annual fair in The Hague, with a sidebar containing moralizing proverbs and sayings printed in the columns on the outer margins.

Painter, draftsman, and poet, Adriaen van de Venne rejected the international grand manner based on antique models and created a new style based on Holland’s own idioms. Although largely self-taught, he also studied with local painters who may have taught him the grisaille technique–painting in shades of gray–that characterizes his later work. By 1614 he was in Middelburg, where his earliest dated paintings show the influence of the Flemish Jan Brueghel the Elder’s landscapes and of Jan’s father Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s satirical, moralizing peasant vignettes.

Van de Venne began working as a book illustrator, print designer, political propagandist, and poet, collaborating with his brother Jan, a well-known publisher and art dealer. Holland’s leading writers employed Van de Venne, whose illustrations contributed greatly to the popularity of Dutch emblem books, which combined pictures and prose to present a moral lesson. After moving to The Hague and joining the Guild of Saint Luke in 1625, Van de Venne was probably employed at court. In 1640 he became the guild’s dean. He continued his book and printmaking projects and painted most of his well-known grisaille paintings, many depicting the destitute and maimed. – Somewhat browned and spotted throughout, a few pages with a faint stain in the lower half, mainly confined to the lower blank margin, a handwritten exlibris with the date 1656 in the blank lower margin of the title-page, copy with good margins and fine impressions.