Earlier today I found my way to an interesting on-line exhibition entitled Der Welt Lauf, hosted at the Kunstgeschichtliches Institut’s website at the Ruhr-Universität, Bochum. The physical exhibition was staged as long ago as the summer of ’98 (and even then had been transferred to Bochum after an earlier stay in Stuttgart), so I should be grateful the site’s been kept on-line this long. The exhibition is devoted to sequences of allegorical, Mannerist engravings. I’ve picked out one such series, Circulus Vicissitudinis Rerum Humanarum, engraved after designs by the painter Maarten de Vos (1532-1603), for re-display here.
This sequence comprises a title-page, followed by six other engravings: the first, Divitiæ, Wealth, is succeeded by a splendid Superbia (Pride, the second engraving). Pride, in turn, provokes Bellum (War, the third engraving), whose consequence is Pauperies (Poverty, the fourth engraving). Out of poverty, however, comes Humilis Animus (Humility of the Soul, I guess - engraving no. five), which in turn brings Pax (Peace, the final engraving). The Circulus in the series’ title implies, of course, that out of peace will come wealth, and so on…
I was surprised that I couldn’t recall having heard of de Vos before: he seems to be a fascinating artist. He studied under Tintoretto in Venice, and collaborated with Brueghel in Rome before returning to his native Antwerp, eventually becoming that city’s ‘leading Italianate artist’. ‘The altarpieces that make up the bulk of his output are typically Mannerist in their strained, slender elegance’ says a very brief on-line biographical sketch, an assessment which strikes me as a little dismissive.
Der Welt Lauf features other graphic series after designs by de Vos, including depictions of the seven planets, and of the four temperaments and the four elements. The present images are slightly reduced copies of those on the Bochum site: click to see them enlarged.