FIGURING MARITAL SURVEILLANCE IN SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY DUTCH ART
This thesis analyzes the pendant prints from the book The Mistake off Matrimonij (1641)by Dutch artist Crispijn de Passe the Younger (or Crispijn van de Passe the Younger) (1594/95−1670) and is dually concerned with both their production and reception. The volume’s introductory pages explicitly call out the “shameful” behaviors of European citizens who enabled or engaged in adultery and the paired images that follow attempt to persuade a reader that the represented individuals, and their illicit sexual actions, existed and were thus a threat to society. With select case studies of the volume’s pairings, the project argues that the visualization of the figures was compelled by and propelled contemporary marital surveillance networks and popular media’s gendered marital stereotypes. Chapter One considers the volume’s pictorial presentation of gossip not as a report of social anecdotes, but as images within and onto which social judgments were made. Chapter Two expands into a gender analysis to argue that the book’s characters were influenced by gendered tropes and expectations expressed in early modern imagery and nuptial literature. The latter chapter also addresses the representation of the figures in relation to “other” social identities, such as race and disability. Audience is a vital interpretive context, as the volume emphatically demonstrates its interest in a range of readers, most notably in its introductory pages, multilingual texts, and transnational subject matter. This project concludes that the book’s intended messaging was not strictly didactic, and that the volume established a discursive relationship with agentic readers.