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This is our edition of Zinne-beelden der liefde of 1703 by Willem den Elger. In this introduction, we have limited ourselves to the essentials.

About Willem den Elger

Willem den Elger was born ca. 1677 in The Hague and died in Rotterdam in 1703.1 In 1698 he earned a Ph.D. degree at law school. But he did not have a chance to have a career, because he died at such an early age. He was, however, a productive writer with a thorough command of French, Italian, Greek and Latin, testifying to the works and poems he had translated and adapted. He left behind three tragedies and a popular farce. Some friends managed to publish more of his work after his death; therefore we know his poems, which were published in 1726. Love poems hold an important position amongst a lot of occasional and pastoral poetry. It was said Den Elger died young because of an unhappy love affair.

About the Zinne-beelden der liefde

The Zinne-beelden der liefde is a remarkable book because it appearance meant a complete change in the traditional way profane and religious emblems had influenced each other in the seventeenth century. Normally, religious emblem writers followed in the footsteps of paths laid out by profane predecessors. Otto Vaenius published Amorum emblemata (see: [Titlepage]) before he reworked his own work into a religious variant in the Amoris divinis emblemata (see: [Titlepage]), and in Herman Hugo's Pia desidiria and Justus de Harduwijn's Goddelycke wenschen (see: [Titlepage]) one can recognize many worldly sources. Den Elger turned this practice around. His Zinne-beelden der liefde is partly indebted to a religious work, Amorum divini et humani effectus (see: ). This concept proved to be rather succesful. The fifty emblems of the Zinne-beelden der liefde were printed three times in the eighteenth century, in 1703, 1725 and 1732.

Copy Used for This Edition

In making this edition of Zinne-beelden der liefde we have used the copy of the edition of 1703 conserved in the Royal Libray (The Hague), shelf number 488 D 8. Two pages of this copy (pages 16 and 123) were in poor condition; we have replaced them by images taken from the Utrecht-copy of the same 1703-edition, shelf number LB LBKUN RAR LMY ELGER.


We have transcribed the full text from the The Hague copy and encoded this text using TEI mark-up, to allow for flexibility in presentation and non-destructive editorial enhancement of the text. The full Project Guidelines for transcription, editorial intervention and indexing of the text are available elsewhere on this site. Printing errors have been corrected in our transcription.


The full Emblem Project Utrecht bibliography may be accessed using the menu option at the left side of this (or any) window. A selection of literature relevant to Den Elger and his Zinne-beelden der liefde follows here.

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This brief sketch of Den Elger's life is based on , the preface of Den Elger, Gedichten, Heckscher, Twenty unrecorded lines and Molhuysen and Blok, Nieuw Nederlandsch biografisch woordenboek, vol. 4, 563-564.