Highlights

Unknown artist (active about 1460), Venus, c. 1460

Ubekendt kunstner (active about 1460), Venus, c. 1460. 270x183 mm. kks10458/5
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This woodcut comes from the only known complete copy of this Dutch ”book of planets”, presumably created in Haarlem around 1460.

Symbolic representations

It contains seven symbolic representations of the heavenly bodies Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sol, Venus, Mercury, and Luna with the sun and the moon taking the places of the as-yet undiscovered planets Uranus and Neptune.

The pattern of the composition

In all seven prints, the composition follows the same pattern without any needless variation. A circle at the top contains a planetary god or goddess flanked by two smaller circles featuring the zodiac figures associated with the relevant celestial orb, and general enlightenment is ensured by scrolls like proudly flapping pennants announcing exactly who is who.

Below, various scenes take place within overcrowded plots in a stylised, steep landscape.

A mood of luxury, repose and voluptousness
In this woodcut Venus holds a mirror and a bunch of flowers, and this mood of luxury, repose, and voluptuousness is reflected in the careful grooming process taking place in the bathtub behind the well-provided table, as well as in the musical offerings appreciated by two demurely loving couples.

The picture originally also featured a third, somewhat less virtuous couple between the trees to the right, but almost every trace of their horizontal exertions have been chastely excised here.

Updated: 11.jul.2014
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