Ptolemeus, Copernicus, en Merkuur op de Parnas over de Zon en de Waereld

Translated Print Title: 
[Ptolemy, Copernicus, and Mercury on Parnassus, Speaking about the Sun and the World]
Series/Book Title: 
Esopus in Europa
Amsterdam: [Printed by] Sebastiaan Petzold

The prolific Dutch illustrator Romeyn de Hooghe reacted to the outbreak of the War of the Spanish Succession by publishing a satirical weekly entitled Esopus in Europa. Each of the forty issues combined an etched frontispiece with a fictional dialogue commenting on the political situation.

Seen here is the best known of his cartoons ridiculing Louis XIV. Propped on crutches, the king is standing uneasily on his chariot-cum-toilet driven by Madame de Maintenon, represented as the evening star (Venus at sunset). The wheels are coming off, and the vehicle is thrown out of kilter by animals symbolizing the anti-French allies. Louis XIV here embodies not Apollo but rather his reckless son Phaethon, unable to control the sun chariot. The print is an incisive parody of the triumphant images displayed at Versailles, specifically the “Crossing of the Rhine” painting in the Hall of Mirrors.

Rare Book Division.