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9 Pioneers of the Printed Paradise: Maarten de Vos, Jan Sadeler I and Emblematic Natural History in the Late Sixteenth Century

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Chapter Summary

In 1587 Jan Sadeler I was appointed court engraver to Duke Wilhelm V in Bavaria. Shortly thereafter he contacted his collaborator, Maarten de Vos, one of the sought-after print designers in Antwerp at the time. Together they executed an artistic project that would appeal to the aesthetic tastes and spiritual practices of Sadeler's ducal patron. The fruit of their collaboration, a small, richly-detailed graphic series entitled Imago Bonitatis, traces God's creation of the world across Paradise landscapes diversely animated with living creatures. This chapter unravels a complex picture of the uptake of early modern natural history in the visual arts late in the sixteenth century, and offers a glimpse at the possibilities for the artistic mobilization of natural history to follow in the seventeenth century. The new vision of Paradise would find its most colorful expression in the work of Jan Brueghel the Elder in the early seventeenth century.

Keywords: Imago Bonitatis; Jan Sadeler I; Maarten de Vos; Paradise landscapes; seventeenth century



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