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Amorum, Cherubs

Otto Van Veem: Amorum Emblemata Antwerp: 1608. University of Glasgow Special Collections. Sp Coll S.M.Add.392

The Amorum Emblemata is considered to be one of the most important and influential of all emblem books. The collection was designed by Otto van Veen (1556-1629) and first published in Antwerp in 1608 in three polyglot versions: Latin, French & Dutch; Latin, Italian & French (as in this copy); and Latin, English & Italian. Its success and popularity lead to many further editions and adaptations, while its images were subsequently used by decorative artists throughout Europe.

In producing a book of love emblems, Van Veen was following a trend which began in Amsterdam in 1601 with the publication of Quaeris quid sit Amor, a compilation of twenty-four love emblem prints produced by the artist Jacques de Gheyn with accompanying Dutch verses by Daniel Heinsius. Van Veen’s volume is far more comprehensive, consisting of 124 emblems. The amorous maxims which accompany and interpret the pictures are mostly, but not always, taken from Ovid. Addressed to young people, the book depicts love as an overruling power which should be followed to gain happiness.

Amorum Emblemata, hugging cherubs. Union is loues wish (emblem)
CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Special Collections at Johns Hopkins University on Flickr

University of Glasgow Special Collections

The University of Glasgow Special Collections span over 2,000 years of human activity. The University has been accumulating items of historical importance since its foundation in 1451. Early donations to the library that still survive include books donated by the Scottish humanist poet George Buchanan in 1578. Since then acquisitions have included the bequest of William Hunter’s library, artist James McNeill Whistler’s letters from the early 20th century and more recently the Scottish Theatre Archive. Access to the collection, housed on the 12th floor of the University’s Library, is free, allowing you to delve into a unique archive.

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