Joop Koopmans | Het nieuws verbeeld: Oorlog en vrede in de titelprenten van de Europische Mercurius (1690-1750)

Today many publications have remarkable covers. They serve as eye-catchers that should stimulate their sale. Frontispieces fulfilled this function in early modern Europe. Frontispieces of news periodicals such as the Dutch Europische Mercurius (European Mercury) were a special variant. This prominent periodical, in several volumes, contains such engravings published between 1690 and 1750. They include representations of many news topics, many with allegorical characters. Mercury appears on these frontispieces as the messenger of the classical gods. Princess and Zeus, disguised as a white bull, symbolise the European continent. Mars and Pax are often depicted as issues of war and peace dominated European politics during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

The first part of this book begins with the media-historical context of the Europische Mercurius. Then the development of this news medium itself is discussed. Who were its producers, and which characteristics are suspicious? The second part of this book deals with the representations of the news topics on the Europische Mercurius’ frontispieces. After an overarching analysis, all 61 engravings have been explained. A part of these frontispieces had corresponding rhymed explanations. These poems have also been used to elucidate the engraved illustrations. In short, this book is a unique contribution to our knowledge about the functioning of the early modern European news industry, in particular regarding its visual aspects.

Find more information about the publisher here or watch an interview with Joop Koopmans here.