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Monday, October 13, 2014

Three Dutch Kinds of Marriage


After: Hendrick Goltzius (1558 – January 1, 1617)
Print made by: Jan Saenredam (C.1565-1607) 
Three kinds of marriages: Marriage for love officiated by Cupid; Cupid stands between a young, finely attired couple who face each other and hold hands
c 1595
Engraving
235 millimetres x 163 millimetres
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam




After: Hendrick Goltzius (1558 – January 1, 1617)
Print made by: Jan Saenredam (C.1565-1607) 
Three kinds of marriages: Marriage for wealth officiated by Satan; Satan stands between a finely attired couple who face each other and hold hands 
c 1595
Engraving
235 millimetres x 163 millimetres
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam




After: Hendrick Goltzius (1558 – January 1, 1617)
Print made by: Jan Saenredam (C.1565-1607) 
Three kinds of marriages: Marriage for spiritual love officiated by Jesus Christ; Jesus blesses the couple who face each other and hold hands; the bride holds a palm and resembles a female saint
c 1595
Engraving
235 millimetres x 163 millimetres
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam


The three prints are from a series of three plates showing three different kinds of marriage, engraved by Saenredam after designs by Hendrick Goltzius

The set was first published in Haarlem by Goltzius around 1595

This set was numerously copied by Dutch and German printmakers up to the eighteenth century

Goltzius was an internationally acclaimed engraver, print publisher, draftsman, and painter,and was one of the outstanding figures in Dutch art during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries

In the late 1580s, he was at the height of his success and created some of the most spectacular pieces in the history of prints

When Goltzius was only a year old, he fell headfirst into the fireplace and burned both his hands on the red-hot coals. His right hand was permanently deformed. Despite this he was capable of exceptional virtuosity, and one of the greatest draftsmen of his time.

At the age of 21 Goltzius married a rich widow Margaretha Jansdr in 1579. It was she who  helped him set up a workshop

In Holland at the time the role of the family as the basis of society was strongly emphasised

Physical attraction was only one of the factors to be taken into account. Spiritual and mental connection between spouses also had to exist as the basis for life long companionship

In a strongly Protestant Holland ruled by Catholic Spain, prints on the ideal Christian marriage were popular

In the third image we see the sacramentality of marriage as well as a union declared indissoluble in terms of Divine command

In the third print which obviously contrasts with the two others, we see Christ himself officiating at the Sacrament of marriage. 

The man is more mature. The woman holds a palm the symbol of purity

The inscription reads: "Quos connectit amor verus, castumque cubile / Auspice iunguntur Christo, remanentque fideles." - Those who are joined by true love and a chaste marriage bed will be faithful to each other

In the background of the image the husband receives a  crown from his wife. The other images have other background images which show that the other relationships are destined to lead to unhappiness, loneliness and vice

Mutual fidelity and not simply fidelity on the part of the wife towards the husband is what is being depicted

But more than that, mutual affection and love  which are absent from the other two images