The Attack of Love
- The Attack of Love
- Full Title:
- Representation sÿmbolique et ingenieuse projettée en siege et en bombardement comme il faut empecher prudemment les attaques de l’amour [repeated in German]
- Persuasive Maps: PJ Mode Collection
- Seutter, Matthaeus, 1678-1756
- Date posted:
- ID Number:
- (cm, H x W) 50 x 57
- Collector's Notes:
- This is an early allegorical map of love with title, captions, and key in both French and German. The date is estimated.
"Unusually for a map of love, the plan is drawn from a male perspective; the Castle of Love is the male heart, while it is the women who are shown trying to break through." Baynton-Williams 2015, 74. "The concept of the fortified heart is taken to the extreme in this richly engraved and embellished map by Seutter. The large cartouche shows Venus in her chariot being pulled by flying birds through clouds. Depicted below, as it were, a sophisticated battle scene (with ninety-five keyed features) unfolds, where forces are attacking and defending the fortress of Manhood that sits in a frozen, passionless sea. The side of Love, representing the fairer sex, employs four sets of artillery batteries (on the left) to bombard the walls with appeals to vanity, offering delightful surprises, charms, and joys, and plying with tenderness, wishful thinking, and “un certain je ne sais quoi.” Over the walls, naval ships lob such feminine wiles and virtues as beauty, pleasant conversation, gentleness, and “regards languissant” (languishing looks). Love’s forces are camped for the duration (at the lower left), commanded by their general, Cupid". Delaney 211-14. See generally Barron 2012; Hill 1978, #65.
As the key states, there are also methods for defending and conserving one’s heart against this unrelenting onslaught: memory, prudence, industry, experience (see the lettered outposts along the fortress walls). Ultimately, however, it is a war of attrition. As the trail winding through the fortress and along the coastline proves, the love-struck victim surrenders, retreating, first, to his friends for advice, deliberation, and information, before moving onward to the garden of pleasure and his first encounter with his beloved. (Seutter’s ornate and symmetrical “Jardin de plaisir” reflects the precisely structured love bower of Colonna.) From there, via a subterranean passage, he arrives at the Palace of Love—note the change from fortress to palace—which resides in a sea of peace. Entering is easy, according to the note, but leaving is impossible without losing one’s liberty. Another definition of a prison?
The collection includes a number of related maps; see Subject > Romance/Love/Marriage. Early allegorical maps of this kind were "more than oddities or simple curiosities," more than simply "reflections of contemporary views" they were "exemplary tools in the articulation of new attitudes, exposing controversial states of social awareness." Reitinger 1999, 106. Among other things, Reitinger provides a "comprehensive overview" of the subject and discusses the "trope of love as a fortified destination." (Ibid, 116). See also Delaney 2012, 207-215.
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- Private Collection of PJ Mode
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