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Original price £375.00 - Original price £375.00
Original price
£375.00 - £375.00
Current price £375.00

[Rotterdam, Oprechte Vaderlandsche Societeit] [Sansom, Franciscus]: Afbeelding van de Illuminatie en Decoratie voor het huis der Oprechte Vaderlandsche Societeit op het Westnieuwland te Rotterdam op den eersten Verjaardag van zyne Doorluchtige Hoogheid na de gezeegende Omwenteling op den 8ste Maart beneevens den Sachenetten de Alliantie en Guarandatie op den 7 den Augustus 1788 geplaast. Opgedraagen aan derzelver Leeden. [Rotterdam: P. van Dijk], [1788].

A visually impressive item, this print depicts the illumination and decoration of a building in Rotterdam for Prince William V’s birthday on the 8th of March 1788. It highlights the relationship between public spaces and ideology and captures the evolution of an engraved image over time.

Dutch politics in the 1780s was characterized by opposition between the Orangists, who favoured members of the House of Orange for the position of Stadtholder (defacto head of state), and the anti-Orangists (or Patriots) who resisted the rule of the Prince of Orange. The Orangists regained the upper hand politically in 1787, and ‘moved quickly to reassert ideological control of Holland’s public spaces’—with the celebrations for William V’s fortieth birthday being ‘[a] case in point’ (van Ittersum 2012, p. 1382).

The present print shows how hundreds of lights were used to decorate the building of the Oprechte Vaderlandsche Societeit, an Orangist political society (The Society of True Patriots). Fifteen allegorical images also adorn the building, each with a caption. One depicts a woman presiding over a harvest with the caption ‘Vruchtbaar onder oranjes zorg’ (fruitful/fertile under Orange care). A bustling crowd of well-dressed people can be seen in the foreground; they are variously talking, and dancing, and admiring the building.

Versions of this image featured in four different single-sheet publications, all apparently printed in 1788 (Muller nos. 5066-5069).1 They differ in their dimensions and some key visual details. The present version, Muller no. 5068, appears to be from a late stage in the evolution of the illustration. Two additional allegorical images, added to the building on the 7th of August 1788, have been incorporated into the engraving. These are entitled ‘De trouw onzer voor vaderen’ (The faithfulness of our forefathers) and ‘Een zegen voor het nageslagt’ (A blessing for posterity). The latter is a reference to the Act of Guarantee (1788), which enshrined that the Stadtholder would be a hereditary position held by a member of the House of Orange-Nassau.

The extra images in our version pay tribute to an incremental process of developing and adapting a print over time. The inclusion of a bustling crowd also sets it apart from earlier versions. The throng of people adds to the sense of festivity and occasion and creates a more striking effect.

We have been able to locate copies of the present version in the Rijksmuseum, the Stadsarchief Rotterdam, and the Gevangenismuseum. By analogy, we can deduce that the following information has been trimmed away from the present copy: ‘uit gegeven by P. van Dyk te Rotterdam.’ ‘Sansom delt et sculpt’.

[Note 1] One iteration of Sansom’s engraving was also used in a contemporary book describing the Rotterdam 1 celebrations (see bibliography for publication details; cf. Muller no. 5067).


Intaglio print, printed on one side only. 36.4 x 26.2 cms. Image of the Oprechte Vaderlandsche Societeit building, decorated with lights and images, with crowd in foreground.

Condition: browning to paper, minor staining, minor tear/scuff to upper left-hand corner, margins trimmed (with loss of details of publisher and engraver). Two small Y-shaped marks (shallow worming?) on blank reverse.

Provenance: Handwritten identification of printer to upper right-hand corner on blank reverse (P v Dijk).


Copies in the Rijksmuseum (RP-P-OB-86.087), the Stadsarchief Rotterdam (RI-1442-I), and the Gevangenismuseum (083421408).

Muller, F., De Nederlandsche geschiedenis in platen: beredeneerde beschrijving van
Nederlandsche historieplaten, zinneprenten en historische kaarten, 4 vols.
(Amsterdam: Frederik Muller, 1863-1882), vol. 2, p. 319, cat. no. 5068.

Landwehr, John, Splendid ceremonies: State entries and royal funerals in the Low Countries,
1515-1791: A bibliography (Leiden: Sijthoff, 1971), 279 [cf. Verheerlykt en verlicht
Rotterdam, 1788].

Rijksmuseum copy of Afbeelding van de Illuminatie en Decoratie… [Muller 5068], last
accessed 17 March 2022 via

van Ittersum, Martine Julia. ‘Confronting Grotius' Legacy in an Age of Revolution: The
Cornets de Groot Family in Rotterdam, 1748-98’, English Historical Review 127
(2012): 1367-1403.

Van Rijn, G. (ed)., Atlas van Stolk: Katalogus der historie-, spot- en zinneprenten betrekkelijk de geschiedenis van Nederland (The Hague, 1895-1933), nos. 4969 [Muller 5067], 4987 [Muller 5066], and 4988 [Muller 5069].

Verheerlykt en verlicht Rotterdam, of beschryving der plechtige Illuminatien en Decoratien, welke binnen de voornoemde Stad hebben plaats gehad, den 8sten Maart 1788. (Rotterdam: Nicolaas Cornel, 1788). Last accessed online via Delpher on 17 March
2022. The relevant image appears in part 1, after p. 103 [cf. Muller 5067].