'Afbeeldinge van het Houlyck van syn Hooghyt de heer Prince van Oranje met de Prinsesse Maria Stuart, Oudste Doghter van den Hertogh van Iorck' (1677).

Johannes van den Aveele - also known as Jan van den Aveele(n) - was a late 17th-century, early 18th-century Dutch painter, copperplate engraver and illustrator. His career can be divided into two periods. Before 1698, he was active in his country of birth, after which he moved to Sweden, where he mostly worked on topographical maps. During his "Dutch" period, Van den Aveele made several sequential illustrations which are interesting to comic historians as prototypical comics. Among them are a graphic report of the marriage (1677) and coronation (1688) of William III and Mary Stuart, a visualization of Muslim prayer (1681) and a depiction of Catholic violence against Protestants (1698).

The Devil uses gallows to blow gossip into maidservants' ears (from: 'Seven Devils rule and serve Contemporary Housemaids').

Life and work
Johannes Jacobszoon van den Aveele was born in 1655 in Amsterdam. By 1678, he was active as a copperplate engraver. He moved to Utrecht in 1693, before being a citizen of Leiden between 1696 and 1698. In August 1698, Van den Aveele moved to Stockholm, Sweden, where he replaced engraver-cartographer Willem Swidde, who had recently passed away. Van den Aveele was commissioned by Swedish quarter-master general Erik Dahlbergh to continue Swidde's work on the topography of Sweden, the so-called 'Suecia Antiqua et Hodierna'. Van den Aveele worked on this project up until 1715. By then, Dahlbergh had already passed away (in January 1703), which had dire financial consequences for Van den Aveele, as Dahlbergh's fortification corps refused to pay him any longer. In 1716, the artist complained in a petition to the corps that he had seven hungry children's mouths to fill. Despite his plea, it took until 1721 before the corps put him back on their payroll. Van den Aveele stayed in Stockholm for the rest of his life. He died in the Swedish capital in 1727.

Graphic work
During his lifetime, Van den Aveele was renowned for his bird's eye views of towns and cities. Among them are a view of the Dutch town Sorgvliet (1695) and a panorama of Stockholm, based on a design by Cornelis Vermeulen (1702). Van den Aveele also made engravings of locations he never visited personally, like the Yeni mosk in Constantinople (present-day Istanbul) and the Mesopotamian city Babylon. He made various landscape drawings of harbors and depicted sea battles and the construction of naval equipment.

Departure of King William III from Hellevoetsluis

Topical engravings
In so-called 'Geschichtsblatter' ("Pages about Events"), Van den Aveele visualized major news events of the day. These prints portrayed battles, massacres, public executions, state visits, royal marriages and state funerals. Stylistically, they were the modern-day equivalent of a photo report in a newspaper. To portray several individual moments in one drawing, the illustrator would typically use a panel format, making it comparable to a modern-day comic narrative. One of those panel-formatted works is, for instance, Van den Aveele's illustration of the arrival of English king William III and his fleet in Brixham (1688). Artists who made similar Geschichtsblatter with prototypical comic strip elements were the Fleming Frans Hogenberg, the Englishman Francis Barlow, the Dutchman Romeyn de Hooghe, the Czech Prager Meister von 1609 and the Germans Jeremias GathBartholomäus KäppelerCaspar KrebsGeorg KressHans Rogel the Elder, Hans Rogel the Younger, Erhard Schön, Johann Schubert, Hans Schultes the Elder, Lucas Schultes and Elias Wellhöfer.

In 1677, Van den Aveele made a graphic report about the marriage between Dutch "stadhouder" Willem III of Orange and English princess Maria Stuart: 'Afbeeldinge van het Houlyck van syn Hooghyt de heer Prince van Oranje met de Prinsesse Maria Stuart, Oudste Doghter van den Hertogh van Iorck'. The wedding ceremony is shown in the center of the image. Around this large drawing we find several smaller drawings that ought to be read horizontally, from right to left. The only exception is the final row, where the 11th and final image is placed between the 10th and the 9th. To help the reader, Van den Aveele numbered each panel and printed a description underneath. First it is shown how William says goodbye to his government in the Dutch coastal town Hellevoetsluis before his trip to England. After arriving on English soil, the groom is welcomed and congratulated by English nobility. When the newlyweds return to the Netherlands, they ride around in the royal coach in The Hague, while fireworks (as seen in the 10th panel) celebrate the event.

In 1689, Van den Aveele made another graphic report about William III and Mary, 'Proclamatie van het Aanbieden van de Kroon van Engeland aan de Prins en Prinses van Oranje', this time visualizing their recent coronation as king and queen of England. Though only the descriptions underneath the images could be considered new. The artwork is basically recycled from Van den Aveele's previous graphic report about William and Mary's marriage. He added new subtitles, thus changing the original context of the drawings. This practice wasn't that unusual for artists of Geschichtsblatter. After all, most audiences wouldn't have seen, kept or remembered the original graphic reports, making it easier to sometimes reuse old imagery. Around the same time as Van den Aveele, Romeyn de Hooghe also made a graphic report about William III and Mary's coronation.

'Relation Nouvelle d'un Voyage de Constantinople' (1681).

Other prototypical comics and sequential illustrations
Another interesting prototypical comic strip by Van den Aveele can be found in Guillaume Grelot's travel report about Constantinople (present-day Istanbul): 'Relation Nouvelle d'un Voyage de Constantinople' (1681). In a four-panel illustration, the artist depicts how Muslims pray. Presented are two differently clothed men in each image. They stand up, kneel, roll out their prayer rug and worship Allah. While they are certainly not intended as the same duo, their actions are depicted chronologically.

In 1682, Van den Aveele illustrated Simon de Vries' book 'Seven Duyvelen Regeerende en Serveerende de Hedendaeghsche Dienstmaegden' ("Seven Devils Rule and Serve Contemporary Housemaids"), a moralistic tale that shows how seven cartoonish demons seduce housemaids to steal, gossip and fulfill other horrible sins. Van den Aveele also livened up the front page of a 1683 reprint of works by Greek-Roman philosopher and historian Lucius Flavius Arrianus (Arrian in English). The cover is interesting for its use of panels. The first panel shows a huge army, referencing Arrianus' 'Techne Taktike', about military tactics. The drawing in the center depicts hunting dogs attacking a deer and a boar, making a nod to Arrianus's 'Cynegeticus'. The ships in the left lower panel visualize 'Periplus of the Euxine Sea', while the philosopher's school in the right lower panel references 'Enchiridion of Epictetus'.

Arrian illustrations by Johannes van den Aveele.

In 1698, Van den Aveele made an anti-Catholic pamphlet, visualizing how Catholics terrorized Protestants throughout the centuries. In the center of the image, Pope Alexander III and Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa are depicted. Around them, we see several smaller panels depicting the death of Protestant martyrs, with descriptions underneath. For instance, in the left upper corner, Czech reformer Johannes Hus is burnt at the stake. Although the various scenes depicting horrible executions and persecutions don't follow a narrative, they are thematically connected.

Last but not least, Johannes van den Aveele made an undated huge crowd drawing titled 'Ornatissimi Triumphi', depicting an ancient Roman procession. In the left corner of this illustration, he uses a two-panel sequence, where the Roman emperor gives the order for a triumph march to celebrate their recent victory on the Carthagians.

'Ornatissimi Triumphi'.

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