Saturday, January 3, 2009

Francisco d'Ollanda's De Aetatibus Mundi Imagines - Coda










1. De Aetatibus Mundi Imagines' title page: "glory be to thee [o Lord]" (Holanda substituted the evocative expression "o Lord" for the visual representation of a cross using a visual / verbal blend), "Images from the world's past," "the whole history;" the praying mantis is quite original;
2. in the first part of his "Genesis" (1 - 10) Francisco de Holanda wrote excerpts from the Bible in Latin on the verso pages and drew full page illustrations on the recto ones (as seen here in 2. - 4.); each pair represents a day in the creation of the world (1,2: day one);
3. (7,8: day four);
4. (9,10: day five);
5. for a brief period of just four pages (11 - 14) Francisco de Holanda is a William Blake avant la lettre; leaving the two-page system (with drawing and writing separated) he integrates writing in the drawing; the nice touch here (14) is the visual layout of the writing, mimicking a serpent's movement; this is what Anne Magnussen called (in Analytical and Theoretical Approaches to Comics, Museum Tusculanum Press, 2000: 202), following Peirce, "iconic-diagrammatic;"
6. from page fifteen until the "Apocalypsis" (the Apocalypse) on page one hundred and thirty five (with a few full page illustrations as exceptions), Francisco de Holanda approaches a modern comics look with a big illustration and small inserts with text on the bottom of the page; here's page 72 (the annunciation): the color is an exception because all this section's pages but two are in b & w;
7. "nona visio," the ninth vision of the Apocalypse (153): the ending (the Apocalypse) seems either rushed or unfinished (Holanda seems to go back to his initial idea of the text / drawing pair of pages, but no extended text appears; what seems to me is that he lost steam as the years passed); anyway, Francisco de Holanda's drawing style has no distinguished features; on the contrary, it looks rather average as far as Mannerism goes;
8., 9. the book's last two pages are among the most interesting; page one hundred and seventy two is a blunt vanitas representing Aphrodite and Eros as corpses; page one hundred and seventy four is a self-portrait of the artist presenting his book to the "malitia temporis," the malice of the ages.

PS Thanks are in order to that fine chap at BibliOdyssey ( who reminded me of an old passion of mine: Francisco d'Ollanda.

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