amorum emblemata

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Happy Valentine’s Day! Today we’re taking a look at Emblems of Love by Philip Ayres, a book “dedicated to the ladys” in 1683.

Ayres, a poet and translator, was a tutor to the Drake family and is known primarily in this century for his Lyrick Poems (1687). However, his Emblems of Love was a well-known success in his own time. Emblem books generally have engraved images or symbols with accompanying text or poetry, and they were popular during the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Emblems of Love was one of the last of the genre to gain wide popularity in England.

The images for Emblems of Love feature putti and human beings in various activities, and are based on two earlier works: Amorum emblemata by Otto van Veen (1608) and Thronus cupidinis (1618). Some of the verses are also borrowed from these sources, although the English versions were composed by Ayres.

Ayres, Philip, 1638-1712. Emblems of love : in four languages. Dedicated to the ladys by Ph. Ayres, esq. London : Printed for J. Wren, [1683?]. MU Ellis Special Collections Rare N7740 .A82