Spiegel der alder-schoonste cortisanen deses tyts

Crispyn van de Passe de Jonge (c.1597-c.1670) was descended from a well-known family of engravers. After an apprenticeship to his father in Utrecht he continued his training in Paris and subsequently returned to Utrecht in 1630. In 1639 he settled in Amsterdam, where he was to stay for the rest of his life. Besides numerous portraits, engraved title-pages, etc., he also left behind a number of books containing series of allegorical/emblematic portraits, including the ‘Mirror of the most beautiful courtisans of this time’. This was published in 1631, anonymously and without place of publication. Preceded by an engraved title and portraits of the pastoral couple Corydon and Sylvia, it contains portraits of an international gathering of 38 fallen women, harlots, courtesans, and bawds, with accompanying rhymes in French, Dutch and German on the opposite pages. The author of these rhymes is unknown, but may have been Van de Passe himself, as German and French would not have been a problem for him. He was born in Cologne (the family moved to Utrecht only c. 1611), and in 1631 had only recently returned from a long stay in Paris. Van de Passe's *Spiegel *was a typical book to be given away as a present, meant for the international market. There is an earlier edition in French, published in 1630. In 1635 a reprint appeared with an additional English version of the rhymes. In 1701, 1708, and 1710 adaptations of the book were published. The contents of the prefaces in French, Dutch and German are far from identical. The German preface is the most extensive one, in which the author gives four reasons for his publication: to illustrate the differences in apparel and hairdo of various nationalities, to show how the ladies over and over again justify their infamous way of life by claiming to be the mistresses of princes and noblemen (in actual fact they were mostly ‘stable-lads, dogsbodies and shady cooks'), to show his friends where the money had gone which they had squandered in their youth, and finally for the benefit of painters and sculptors and other people wanting to get to know the world without leaving their rooms.

Le miroir des plus belles courtisannes de ce temps = Spiegel der alderschoonste cortisanen deses tyts. = Spieghel der allerschónsten Courtisannen diser Zeit. Ghedruckt voor den autheur, 1631. 4º oblong. - 343 J 8, plate 11-12

Le miroir des plus belles courtisannes de ce temps = Spiegel der alderschoonste cortisanen deses tyts. = Spieghel der allerschónsten Courtisannen diser Zeit. Ghedruckt voor den autheur, 1631. 4º oblong. - 343 J 8, plate 11-12

Literature

D. Franken. L'oeuvre gravé des Van de Passe. Amsterdam, Paris 1881, no. 1369
Hollstein's Dutch and Flemish etchings, engravings and woodcuts ca. 1450-1700. Dl. 16 (ed. J. Verbeek en I.M. Veldman). Amsterdam [1974], p. 143.