Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Artist seized!

Click to enlarge

I couldn't resist tinkering with the strange recent image from Ptak Science Books: Out of Context Department: Artists Taken by the Devil, 1620. It actually comes from a 17th century Dutch religious work, Den wech des eeuwich levens (The way to eternal life) by Antine Sucquet, Gerardus Zoes and Bo√ęce van Bolswert, which is online in full at the Internet Archive.

The complete picture, on page 556, depicts a couple of artists painting Jesus and the Christian pantheon, but we haven't yet been able to work out why painter B is being grabbed by a demon. There is a caption, but my Renaissance Dutch is a little rusty. I'm taking advice.

"Om mat ghy de stercker tot de deugt verweckt sout worden, soeckt ende volght [A] d’exemplen der Heyligen, meest van uw’ Patronen, ende versoeyt [B] de sonde, die u van deselve treckt, ondersoeckt wat sy van dese deught hebben gevoelt, en geschreven; hoe sy die hebben geoffent door ‘t ingeven van den [C] H. Geest.

(Apologies for plagiarism to Ptak Science Books, Lol Manuscripts! and Wondermark).

Addendum. We have an explanation, thanks to Trevor at Kalebeul (who actually knows "Elderly Dutch" - see the comments). B is not the artist, but the creature grabbing him - not a demon but a representation of "sonde" (sin) distracting him.

- Ray


  1. This is one of a bunch of related tropes designed to help readers lead better lives. Portraiture here is a way of learning from religious figures, who we see in the distance being radiated by the Holy Ghost (C). Sin (B) distracts the left-hand artist--we hope temporarily--from the Virgin Mary (D), while the Philosophers (H) lurk in the shadow of Virtue (I). And so forth.

    So Hollandish, the obsession with observation! Perhaps.

    I occasionally translate Elderly Dutch for euros and cents. With your encouragement this kind of stuff will surely become incredibly popular and myself improbably wealthy.

  2. Ah, so B is not the artist, but the creature grabbing him (not a devil but "sonde" = sin)?

  3. Looking at this image again it seems to me now that the artist on the right (our right) might actually be a woman.