Album amicorum of Egbert Philip van Visvliet

Its 195 contributions make the album amicorum of Van Visvliet one of the most extensive alba of the eighteenth century. Almost all entries date from the years 1755 to 1762, when he was reading law and medicine in Leiden. The drawings lend a special charm to the album, for the majority of the contemporary alba lack any such illustrations. Some of the drawings clearly refer to the album's owner. Franciscus Xavery, for instance, painted a pretty picture of two children ‘vissend’ (fishing) on the bank of a "vliet'' (stream), and in the accompanying poem Xavery also puns on the name ‘Visvliet’. In another illustration R.C. van Goens shows Old Father Time smashing up his scythe on a pedestal on which a putto has engraved the name ‘Visvliet’. A unique integration of text and image is accomplished in the contribution of Johannes Le Francq van Berkhey, whose three-volumed Kunst en vriendschappelijk gedenkboek is also in the possession of the Koninklijke Bibliotheek.

‘To those whose befriended spirits are united in their studies by Pallas, true love often offers its own gifts’ reads the Latin caption. And true enough, under the approving eyes of Pallas Athena we see Amor handing the cup of friendship to Van Visvliet and Le Francq van Berkhey, surrounded by various symbols connected with their studies (medicine and botany). Even the ‘symbolum’ - a pithy word of wisdom - often found in eighteenth-century alba, has been visualized in the left part of the picture: ‘In the shade of the oak the merry ivy grows’.

After his student days were over Van Visvliet received only few contributions to his album, but it continued to play an important role in his life. Although he did not write down notes on the contributors' ensuing careers - as has been done in other alba - we know from the frequently added ‘obiit’ (has died), that his album must have served him as a ‘friend’, and that he continued to follow the vicissitudes of his former fellow students until the very last moment.

Album amicorum of Egbert Philip van Visvliet (1736-1799), statesman and medical man. 195 contributions, 1755-1795, at Leiden and Amsterdam. Paper, 176 leaves, 118 x 187 mm. Contains 11 drawings. - Prov.: auction Frederik Muller, A'dam, 1907. - 132 G 40, f

Album amicorumof Egbert Philip van Visvliet (1736-1799), statesman and medical man. 195 contributions, 1755-1795, at Leiden and Amsterdam. Paper, 176 leaves, 118 x 187 mm. Contains 11 drawings. - Prov.: auction Frederik Muller, A'dam, 1907. - 132 G 40, fol. 131r

Literature

Alba amicorum. Vijf eeuwen vriendschap op papier gezet. Maarssen, 's-Gravenhage 1990, no. 71, afb. op p. 92.