Jan Luyken  

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"Luyken's life, too, fascinated him, by explaining the hallucination of his work. A fervent Calvinist, a stubborn sectarian, unbalanced by prayers and hymns, he wrote religious poetry which he illustrated, paraphrased the psalms in verse, lost himself in the reading of the Bible from which he emerged haggard and frenzied, his brain haunted by monstrous subjects, his mouth twisted by the maledictions of the Reformation and by its songs of terror and hate.

And he scorned the world, surrendering his wealth to the poor and subsisting on a slice of bread. He ended his life in travelling, with an equally fanatical servant, going where chance led his boat, preaching the Gospel far and wide, endeavoring to forego nourishment, and eventually becoming almost demented and violent."–À rebours (1884) by J. K. Huysmans

"In 1671 verscheen de liederenbundel Duytse lier van de graveur Jan Luyken (1649-1712), die bekend staat als de mooiste uit de tijd. De bundel is, volgens Moderne encyclopedie der wereldliteratuur, een toonbeeld van evenwicht tussen "eenvoud en raffinement, van geïnspireerde 17de-eeuwse erotiek en 18de-eeuwse arcadische stilering." Daarna legde Luyken zich toe op het protestantisme van zijn opvoeding en diende zijn geloofsovertuiging met zijn dubbeltalent als graveur en dichter in een reeks emblematabundels: Jesus en de ziel (1678), Voncken der liefde Jesu (1678), Het menselijk bedryf (1694), De onwaardige wereld (1710) en De bykorf des gemoeds (1711) vormen samen, volgens G. J. van Bork, P. J. Verkruijsse, "de meest bewonderenswaardige reeks emblematabundels (...) die de Nederlandse literatuur kent". Zo zette hij de tweehonderd jaar oude emblamatatraditie voort en voltooide die. Vanwege de niet-modieuze aard van zijn werk was hij toch afgezonderd van zijn schrijvende tijdgenoten."--Sholem Stein

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Jan Luyken (April 16, 1649 – April 5, 1712) was a Dutch poet, illustrator, and engraver best-known for the illustrations to the Martyrs Mirror so much admired by Des Esseintes.



He was born and died in Amsterdam, where he learned engraving from his father Kaspar Luyken. He married at 19 and had several children, of who Kasparus Luiken also became a renowned engraver. He had a religious experience at age 26 that inspired him to write moralistic poetry.


He illustrated the 1685 edition of the Martyrs Mirror with 104 copper etchings. Thirty of these plates survive and are part of The Mirror of the Martyrs exhibit.

He also published Het Menselyk Bedryf ("The Book of Trades") in 1694, which contains numerous engravings, by Luiken and his son Caspar (Caspaares), of 17th-century trades.

Cultural references

Joris-Karl Huysmans' anti-hero Des Esseintes in À rebours was an admirer of Luyken's engravings and had prints from his Religious Persecutions hung in his drawing room. He described them as "appalling engravings containing all the tortures that the madness of religion could devise." Des Esseintes was enthralled not just by Luyken's graphic depictions but his ability to reconstruct times and places in his works.

See also

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