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sinnepoppen text

sinnepoppen cover

The title-page of the book, with Roemer Visscher's personal motto 'Elck wat wils', meaning 'Something for everyone'. (Please click on the emblem above to enlarge the image).

Sinnepoppen, first published in 1614, is perhaps the most popular emblem book of the Dutch Golden Age. The work contains 183 emblems, divided into three sections, so-called 'schocken'. The word 'schock', meaning 'a set of sixty', refers to the number of emblems in each part of the book. In the first two 'schocken', no human figures are depicted, thus abiding by the rules for emblematists laid down by earlier Italian authors such as Paolo Giovio. For an introduction to the emblematic genre, and its purposes and meanings, click >here.

Three more editions of Sinnepoppen were published in the seventeenth century (1620, 1669, 1678). In every edition except the first of 1614, moralistic verses by Roemer Visscher's daughter Anna were added to the original emblems, >as can be seen here. These often religiously inspired two-line epigrams are reminiscent of the more pedagogical poetry of Jacob Cats, and lack the wit of Roemer Visscher's original text. Anna also added ten new emblems to the work, altered the order, and made changes to some of her father's prose commentaries.

Visscher explained to the 'gentle readers' of his emblem book that initially he only wanted to publish the picturae. Only after "gebeden, ja geboden", the requests, the commands even, of his dearest friends and of the publisher Willem Iansz., Roemer Visscher eventually decided to add short explanatory subscriptions in prose. Still he asked his readers to pay more attention to the attractiveness of the images, made by the unrelated artist Claes Jansz. Visscher, than to the >simplicity of his personally written explanations. Roemer Visscher's preface thus seems to exemplify the virtue of modesty, which he was to advocate in his emblems.

Roemer Visscher's intentions are further explained in extracts of the brief >preface to Sinnepoppen.




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Moralistic Intentions of Sinnepoppen
Preface to
the gentle reader

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