chapter  III
6 Pages

III.16 Prints and illustrated broadsheets


Prints as forms of social communication have received focused scholarly attention only in recent decades,3 and consideration of how they might be used as a source for exploring early modern emotions has been incidental rather than deliberate.4 However, these seemingly ephemeral sources can provide significant insight into the ways various emotions – belonging, devotion, love, fear, disgust and wonder – influenced the life of early modern European communities, and how such emotions were deployed, shaped and also reproduced through space and time. Artists employed techniques to stimulate devotion or remorse among religious devotees, to galvanize supporters and humiliate enemies, to ratchet up fear, wonder or penitence in response to unusual events, to celebrate political power, and to generate disgust and outrage against threats

to the moral and social order. They used prints to move viewers to particular forms of response and action by expressing the emotions of their subjects through facial expressions and gesture, or linking them to particular narratives with which they could readily identify and empathize. Alternatively, artists could associate subjects with objects, situations or actions that were traditionally linked to discourses of shame, disgust or ridicule. They also frequently underlined their aim of arousing eliciting emotion through the use of colour, captions or an appended text.