[The Marriage of Impiety and the Devil]

Method Copper engraving
Artist Gijsbert van Veen after Otto van Veen
Published Otho Vaenius invent. Gisb. Vaenius f. [c.1600]
Dimensions Image 365 x 235 mm, Plate & Sheet 370 x 240mm
Notes An allegorical engraving of the union of Satan and the personification of Impiety, engraved by Gijsbert van Veen after a painting by his brother Otto, the companion to a similarly composed plate representing the marriage of Christ and the Church. At centre, the figure of Impiety stands, her vision blinded by a veil of lies. She stands adrift upon an untethered anchor, with the scales of justice discarded at her feet. With her right hand, she clasps in union the arm of her demonic bridegroom, whose horned and bestial head is crowned with a headdress of peacock feathers. Behind his back, he clasps the head of the ass-skin cloak that he has wrapped around his cuirass. Behind the pair, the smouldering fires of hell fill the sky with billows of smoke, which hold aloft a horrible parody of heaven's choirs, with a host of demons playing a cacophony of pots, drums, and trumpets. Bats and snake-haired windheads stir up storms and the heavens are rent by lightning. Below the new couple are their offspring, personified as cherubs wearing the accoutrements of the pre-Christian gods. Usury sits counting on a large timepiece, while Rapine wears the helmet of Mars. Hypocrisy peeks out from behind a mask, its hands held in mock piety, with a bible open on its lap and a rosary wrapped around one arm. Luxury reclines languidly on a globe, while Fraud wears the winged cap of Mercury. To the far right, Simony discards the symbols, and thus responsibility, of temporal power in favour of riches. In the very centre of the scene, an angel of the Lord breaks through the billows of smoke to visit God's judgement upon the evil, placing a weight of lead in the mouth of Impiety. A banderole above the angel's wings contains a passage from Zachariah - Angelus Domini obstruit massa plumbea os iniquitatis (The Angel of the Lord obstructs the mouth of iniquity with a leaden weight) - as well as part of Line 42 of Psalm 107 - The righteous shall see it, and rejoice: and all iniquity shall stop her mouth. A lengthy Latin inscription below the image describes the scene, with an exhortation to all Christians to witness the dangers of Impiety.

Otto van Veen (1556-1629), also known by his latinized name Otho or Octavius Vaenius, was a Flemish painter and humanist artist, whose own work has largely been overshadowed by that of his famous pupil Peter Paul Rubens. van Veen's life took him across the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Germany, and Bohemia, though the majority of his later career was spent in Brussels and Antwerp. In addition to his paintings, he also produced a number of emblem books. His brothers Gijsbert and Pieter were also artists.

Gijsbert van Veen (1558-1630), also known as Gijsbrecht, was a Flemish painter and engraver, and the younger brother of Otto van Veen, the teacher of Rubens. van Veen is principally know for engraving allegorical plates after painting and designs by his brother, as well as his 1588 copper engraving of a native American medicine man, part of a suite of illustrations of Algonquian people.

Condition: Trimmed to platemark and laid to album page, with manuscript borders added to album page. Small patches of surface abrasion to right leg of Devil and arm of Angel. Publisher's imprint partially scratched out and illegible. Printed on Italian laid paper with large watermarked sun. Time toning and dirt staining to borders of album page, not affecting image.
Framing framed
Price £1,100.00
Stock ID 50710

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