London, South Kensington
9 June 2015
LUYKEN, Jan (1649-1712). Theatre des Martyrs, Depuis la mort de J. Christ Jusqu’à present. Leiden: Pierre vander Aa, n.d. [early 18th-century.] Oblong 2° (224 x 265mm). 116 engraved plates, including the title, by Luyken. (A small number of plates with short marginal tears repaired on the verso, some light browning and light soiling.) Contemporary pink sheep backed boards, paper spine label titled in manuscript perhaps in a later hand (some wear at extremities, some light dampstaining). Provenance: de Badts de Cugnac (armorial bookplates, one surmounted by the crown of a marquis).
LUYKEN’S HALLUCINATORY SUITE OF PRINTS recording the persecution of Christians from Jesus up to 1685. In À Rebours Huysmans describes at length his anti-hero Des Esseintes’ taste for these prints which covered the walls of his dressing room: ‘He possessed of the work of this artist, who was fantastic and melancholy, vehement and wild, the series of his Religious Persecutions, horrible prints depicting all the agonies invented by the madness of religions: prints pregnant with human sufferings... These works filled with abominable imaginings, offensive with their odours of burning, oozing with blood and clamorous with caries of horror and maledictions, gave Des Esseintes, who was held fascinated in this red room, the creeping sensations of goose-flesh... But in addition to the tremblings they occasioned... one discovered, among his astonishing, swarming throngs... curious reconstructions of bygone ages. The architecture, costumes and customs during the time... were studied with a meticulous care and noted with scientific accuracy. These prints were veritable treasures of learning... Profoundly suggestive in reflections, they assisted Des Esseintes in passing many a day when his books failed to charm him’. This edition adds 11 plates to the series first produced for Het Bloedig Tooneel (1685).
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