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A Very Personal Copy: Pieter Van Veen's Illustrations To Montaigne's Essais

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Chapter Summary

Leafing through Van Veen’s copy of the Essais, a clear pattern emerges regarding the parts of the text he chose to illustrate. It was not only simply the content of text that was relevant, but also the rhetorical style of selected passages. Firstly, Van Veen chose to illustrate many narrative examples, often with people in action or with a single figure. Secondly, the layout of the text was important. Often he placed the drawing next to a headline or a Latin quotation printed in italics. Finally, he seems to have been guided by linguistic features of the text. To this category belong the illustrations of sayings, comparisons, antipodes, and adynatons, the latter being phenomena that are difficult to render pictorially. Clearly then Pieter van Veen found himself between pictorial traditions and Montaigne’s text: he followed the text closely, but generally made use of pictorial traditions that were available to him.

Keywords: Essais; illustrations; Montaigne; pictorial traditions; Pieter Van Veen; rhetorical style



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