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'As the Old Sing, So Pipe the Young'

Proverbs that offered general, educational or moralising truths in a witty and entertaining manner were not only very popular in the seventeenth century, but were also considered useful didactic tools.1 Jacob Cats, who published his illustrated book of proverbs Spiegel van den Ouden ende Nieuwen Tijdt (Mirror of Old and New Times) in 1632, emphasised that proverbs should be ambiguous.2 People appreciated humorous and playful double meanings, in accordance with the classical motto 'ridendo dicere verum': 'mockingly telling the truth'. The earliest portrayals of proverbs in the Low Countries can be found in the border decorations of late-medieval manuscripts and in tapestries. The popularity of t...
c. 1668-1670
Oil on canvas
162.5 x 133.7cm
742
Images and text © Mauritshuis, 2022

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Mauritshuis
Permanent collection