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Monday, January 07, 2013

Jan Cornelisz Vermeyen: Venus Española

Jan Cornelisz Vermeyen: Venus Española
etching, 1545
British Museum
(published on Faceboook by Veterodoxia)
no copyright infringement intended

A Spanish feast; on the left a courtesan is embracing a man and at the same time robbing his purse; on the right, at the end of the table, a man pokes fingers into his inflated cheeks with a youth looking up at him between his legs; an old man, seated between two women, sticks his tongue out; behind two women dance

Due to the well-known religious constraints of those times, Spanish painting was keeping far from any testimony of sexual fun environments. And as so often has happened, there have been foreign eyes to portray this reality. Jan Cornelisz Vermeyen has been several years in the service of Charles V, accompanying him in the Tunisian campaign. Therefore, he had a closely knowledge of the Spanish reality. At the foot of his etching he put some kind of an ironic denial, (La española cuando besa…) "Sic hispana Venus loculos excantat amando. Sic fucata rapit basia stultus amans."

This etching has several noteworthy details. Let's note the rear scene, with two young girls dancing to the sound of the adufe plucked by the third girl. The use of the adufe, always in female hands, was so widespread in Spain, that when a writer mentioned the term "tambourine" we think that he was referring to the square tambourine.

(Jan Cornelisz Vermeyen)



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