Eternal Memory Mirrors’: Seventeenth-century Dutch Newsprints of Political Executions
Keywords:printmaking, newsprints, cartography, capital punishment, politics, Protestant propaganda
Map and newsprint publishers Claes Jansz. Visscher and Herman Allertsz. developed a new kind of wall print in the first decade of the seventeenth century that depicted contemporary political executions and which served as ‘eternal memory mirror[s]’. These prints evince the high value contemporaries placed on proportionate justice: the desire for visual affirmation that the punishment fit the crime. Visscher was keen to put a good face on things, downplaying disorganization, unflattering or unfortunate aspects of executions, and he emphasized events that suggested divine approval. The success of his early execution prints had a profound impact on the format and variety of Visscher’s later military newsprints. The large scale, sophisticated organization of text and image, and superior aesthetic qualities – all strategies borrowed from monumental wall maps – enhanced the commercial and polemical potential of his execution imagery. The article first considers Visscher’s early professional relationships and training in cartographic circles. Then, it analyses his multi-plate compositions and the relationship between image and text in his execution prints from 1619 and 1623, which were related to the Truce Conflicts and fights between Remonstrants and Counter-Remonstrants. Finally, the article considers the implications of viewing execution imagery on the wall.
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Copyright (c) 2021 Maureen Warren
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