16 June 2015
[PASSE, Crispin de, the younger (1597-1670).] Spiegel der Alderschoonste cortisanen deses tijds. [Nijmegen:] 1701.
8° (170 x 102mm). 28 leaves of engraved portraits of Europe's famous courtesans with two-line Dutch captions, each with facing page of verse in French, Dutch and German, woodcut device on title and initial on leaf of preface. (Occasional faint soiling.) 19th-century dark-green half morocco, spine lettered in gilt (extremities lightly rubbed).
THE SCARCE NEWLY ENGRAVED EDITION OF CRISPIN DE PASSE'S FAMOUS GALLERY OF EUROPEAN COURTESANS.
It contains portraits of an international gathering of 28 fallen women, harlots, courtesans, and bawds, with accompanying rhymes in French, Dutch and German on the opposite pages. The author of these rhymes is unknown, but may have been de Passe himself. The series first appeared in 1630 and enjoyed success; this 1701 edition was entirely re-engraved and must also have sold well as it was reprinted twice, in 1708 and 1710.
The book was intended to be given away as a gift. Crispin de Passe gave four reasons for his rather peculiar publication: 'to illustrate the differences in apparel and hairdo of various nationalities, to show how the ladies over and over again justify their infamous way of life by claiming to be the mistresses of princes and noblemen (in actual fact they were mostly "stable-lads, dogsbodies and shady cooks"), to show his friends where the money had gone which they had squandered in their youth, and finally for the benefit of painters and sculptors and other people wanting to get to know the world without leaving their rooms' (Dutch Royal Library online description of the 1631 edition).
Franken, L'Œuvre gravé des Van de Passe, p. 296; Colas 2289; Soultrait 17th century 227.
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