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Jan Saenredam

(1565 Zaandam – 1607 Assendelft)

The Series of Weddings. Three engravings after Hendrick Goltzius. Each approx. 23.4 x 15.9 cm. The New Hollstein (Goltzius, part III) 525–527 I (of III). Watermark: Small jug.

In the 1590s the engraver, Jan Saenredam, worked in Hendrick Goltzius’ studio, where he proved to be one of the most talented and technically skilled employees. Between 1594 and 1601 Saenredam helped Goltzius to prepare several profane allegorical series, including the Five Senses, the Seven Planets series and the present Series of Weddings. The latter probably arose around 1594 and was engraved in a refined and detailed technique which reveals the influence of Jacques de Gheyn the Younger. The individual images after designs by Hendrick Goltzius have couplets by the Haarlem humanist and playwright, Cornelius Schonaeus, in the lower text margin. They are distinguished by their extremely refined graphic style, wealth of visible detail and original iconography of great substance. 

The allegories have as their theme the various human reasons for matrimony. Marriage for reasons of greed and material gain and a wedding inspired by worldly love and sensual pleasure are contrasted with pure, spiritual love in which Christ marries a pious young couple. Like a martyr the bride holds a palm leaf in her hand as an attribute and the inscription emphasises the marital fidelity of the newly-weds. For a detailed  interpretation of the iconography see I. M. Veldmann, Lessons for Ladies. A Selection of Sixteenth and Seventeenth-Century Dutch Prints, Simiolus 16, 1986, pp. 117–118.

The series was enormously popular, as is evidenced by the large number of later copies and imitations. Superb, even and harmonious early impressions with wide margins, before the editions of Claes Jansz. Visscher and Johannes de Ram. Slight handling traces, otherwise in excellent condition.

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