Eternal Memory Mirrors’: Seventeenth-century Dutch Newsprints of Political Executions


  • Maureen Warren Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois Urbana Champaign



printmaking, newsprints, cartography, capital punishment, politics, Protestant propaganda


Map and newsprint publishers Claes Jansz. Visscher and Herman Allertsz. developed a new kind of wall print in the first decade of the seventeenth century that depicted contemporary political executions and which served as ‘eternal memory mirror[s]’. These prints evince the high value contemporaries placed on proportionate justice: the desire for visual affirmation that the punishment fit the crime. Visscher was keen to put a good face on things, downplaying disorganization, unflattering or unfortunate aspects of executions, and he emphasized events that suggested divine approval. The success of his early execution prints had a profound impact on the format and variety of Visscher’s later military newsprints. The large scale, sophisticated organization of text and image, and superior aesthetic qualities – all strategies borrowed from monumental wall maps – enhanced the commercial and polemical potential of his execution imagery. The article first considers Visscher’s early professional relationships and training in cartographic circles. Then, it analyses his multi-plate compositions and the relationship between image and text in his execution prints from 1619 and 1623, which were related to the Truce Conflicts and fights between Remonstrants and Counter-Remonstrants. Finally, the article considers the implications of viewing execution imagery on the wall.


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Author Biography

Maureen Warren, Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois Urbana Champaign

Maureen Warren is curator of European and American art at Krannert Art Museum at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign. She specializes in early modern Netherlandish art, with expertise in printmaking, book arts, and ceramics. Dr. Warren has articles in The Reception of the Printed Image in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries. Multiplied and Modified (London 2020), Connoisseurship. Essays in Honour of Fred G. Meijer (Leiden 2020), Word & Image (2018), Van Dyck, Rembrandt, and the Portrait Print (New Haven 2016), and Death, Torture and the Broken Body in European Art, 1300-1650 (Farnham 2015). She is currently preparing a book manuscript on images of Johan van Oldenbarnevelt from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.





How to Cite

Warren, M. (2021). Eternal Memory Mirrors’: Seventeenth-century Dutch Newsprints of Political Executions. Early Modern Low Countries, 5(1), 98–133.