[Thanks to Caroline Duroselle-Melish, Assistant Curator of Printing and Graphic Arts, for contributing this post.] The series of prints, entitled “Salus generis humani”, that are bound in this volume were made in the 1590s by the engraver Aegidius Sadeler II (1570-1629). They were engraved after the work of the Mannerist painter Johan von Achen (1552-1615) and after drawings of emblematic borders by the draughtsman Joris Hoefnagel (1542-1601). Hoefnagel’s name prominently engraved on the title page could signify that he financed the production of the prints.
Several title pages were engraved; while the present one is generic, another extant one was dedicated to Ferdinand of Hapsburg. Thirteen New Testament scenes were made for this series although the depiction of the Adoration of the Magi in the present set does not belong to it. An inscription at the bottom of the print indicates that it was made for the Nuremberg publisher Balthasar Caimox (active late 1500-early 1600)
Interest in these prints does not stop at their production as at a later date, probably in the eighteenth century, they were “dressed” or “adorned” (no set terminology exists to describe such phenomenon). Sections of the engravings were cut out and replaced with pieces of fabric pasted on a blank sheet under each print.
Luminescent velvet and silk fabrics were used to render the images more colorful.
Dressing prints was a fad in the late seventeenth and eighteenth century and may have often been a household pastime like other cutting and pasting activities. Whoever dressed the present set did a particularly fine job, interlacing engraved lines and fabric so as to subtly blend them together
These alterations may have been done in Northern Europe. Another collection of dressed prints at Houghton was made in Italy [link to Hollis record for Typ 725.07.299]