Virtual Children's Books Exhibits


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1.  Jacob Cats. Folding frontispiece to part II of Silenus Alcibiadi [Silenus to Alcibiades]. Engraved by J. Swelinck after Adrian van de Venne. Middelburg: Hans vander Hellen, 1618.

This energetic picture of children playing in the courtyard of the Dutch abbey of Middelburg in Zeeland may have been inspired by Pieter Brueghel the Elder's famous 1560 painting (there is no kite there, however). Although van de Venne's frontispiece looks like a catalogue of games to us now, it was meant to remind readers that children's seemingly innocent pastimes foreshadowed familiar adult follies. Kite-flying might inspire reflections about the ambitious man, who forgets that he, like a kite, is always subject to forces stronger than himself.