Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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The Popular Imagery Collection

An Inventory of the Collection at the Harry Ransom Center

Title: Popular Imagery Collection
Dates: circa 14th–19th centuries (bulk 16th–18th centuries)
Extent: 22 boxes, 3 flat file drawers, 2 rolled prints, 1 large folder (826 items)
Abstract: The Popular Imagery collection comprises 822 European prints, paintings, and drawings, most of which date from the 16th through 18th centuries.
Language: Almost half of the works have German titles and/or text; other predominant languages are French, Latin, Dutch, and Italian. There are a few works with English or Spanish text.
Access:

Open for research. A minimum of twenty-four hours is required to pull art materials to the Reading Room.

Digital images from this collection are available on the ArtStor website.




Acquisition:

Purchase (R1775, R1776, R1777) 1963

Processed by:

Helen Young, 2004

Repository:

The University of Texas at Austin, Harry Ransom Center


The Popular Imagery collection comprises 822 European prints, paintings, and drawings, most of which date from the 16th through 18th centuries. Prints make up the bulk of the collection, with 686 intaglios (including seventeen mezzotints), 115 woodcuts, one wood engraving, and six lithographs. There are fourteen unique drawings and paintings. Six of the works are on vellum, and there is an engraving on silk. In addition there are four sheets of accompanying letterpress. Almost half of the works have German titles and/or text; other predominant languages are French, Latin, Dutch, and Italian. There are a few works with English or Spanish text. The works are listed in the order of the dealer’s list.

About 600 of the works have named artists or publishers. A few of the works were created by well-known artists, including Albrecht Dürer, Lucas Cranach the Younger, and Hans Holbein. For a complete listing of the identified artists, see the Creator Index in this finding aid.

A large part of the collection consists of works that pertain to contemporary events. There are several political satires on events such as the French Revolution, the American Revolution, other wars, alliances, and treaties, as well as satires on some of the European rulers, especially James II and Louis XIV. There are twenty-five works pertaining to the Thirty Years' War, including views and maps of battles, cities, and forts, depictions of soldiers and particular events including the Defenestration of Prague and the Peace of Westphalia, and various political allegories. Several prints depict contemporary crimes and scandals. European rulers are prominent in the collection, with seventeen portraits and seventy-nine prints with scenes that include depictions of rulers; all but one of the Holy Roman Emperors after 1612 appears in these works. There are eighteen scenes of processions on such occasions as coronations, royal marriages, and funerals of kings, and a few prints showing rulers' bodies lying in state.

The collection includes social satires on a broad range of topics such as women, domestic life, fashion, folly, social parasites, news reporting, Jews, alcohol consumption, and the 18th century silhouette portrait fad.

There are several works pertaining to religious subjects such as Martin Luther, the Reformation, the Counter-Reformation, Calvinism, the Catholic Church, and the Jesuits. About forty devotional works have depictions of the Crucifixion or the Virgin Mary, and thirteen works show other saints. About a dozen prints illustrate biblical events. The collection holds five indulgences.

Among the collection’s allegorical prints are several on individual vices and virtues, and on good and evil in general, often showing those who succumb to evil being led into flames by winged demons. Other allegorical subjects include marriage and death, with the Dance of Death motif appearing in several prints. There are four sets of allegorical prints on the seasons. The senses are depicted in nineteen allegorical prints, and eighteen prints illustrate various proverbs.

Approximately twenty prints illustrate contemporary curiosities such as people with physical abnormalities, strange animals and plants, and a hyena that terrorized the town of Gevaudan, France in 1764.

A few works depict various technologies, such as water pumping machinery, torture instruments, cannon and bell founding, an iron bridge, and Strassburg Cathedral's astronomical clock. The collection includes two board games, a few prints apparently designed to be cut up as playing cards, five calendars, and an astrology wheel. There is a design for a barbershop sign and advertisements for tobacco and decorative horse accessories. There are ten large works issued on the occasion of disputations of academic theses, and three large prints of family trees.


Due to size, this inventory has been divided into three separate units which can be accessed by clicking on the highlighted text below:

Popular Imagery Collection--Items 1-299 [Part I] [This page]

Popular Imagery Collection--Items 300-499 [Part II]

Popular Imagery Collection--Items 500-558 and Creator and Subject Indexes [Part III]