We have recently purchased an engraved broadside (259 x 339 mm.) depicting what at first sight looks like a regular scene of family life in the seventeenth century. However, a closer examination reveals a very different picture: a dysfunctional household or, to be more precise, a satire of domestic bliss entitled, Hierinnen mann befind dass recht loss Haussgesind (here one finds an out-of-control household). Sitting at the head of the table is a rather despondent paterfamilias contemplating his unmanageable family and servants. His son plays cards; behind his back his daughter steals some coins from the table while his wife stands nearby holding a large wine glass; even the cat is dysfunctional: he seems to be ignoring the mice! A detailed catalog of these misdemeanors is provided by letter-keying the figures of the scene (A-I) to a three-column text below. For instance: A: Wer einen Sohn hat der gern spielt (He who has a son who loves to gamble).
This broadsheet was probably printed in Nuremberg around 1650. The publisher was Paul Fürst (signed as Paulus Fürst excudit) and the engraver was Peter Tröschel (signed as P. Tröschel sculpsit ). In general, early-printed broadsides are rare, difficult to find in the antiquarian market. While they were originally printed in the hundreds, they were not meant to be preserved in the way traditional bound books were. Moreover, there are still many questions about their actual purpose. Were these broadsides framed and then hung on the wall? Did they act as a moral warning of what could go wrong in a household? Were they simply bought as a souvenir to show to friends and laugh about? Were they designed to be part of a book eventually? For instance, I could easily see how an accomplished artist would print them and then show them to potential patrons and publishers. Perhaps a reader of this post might have some clues, or evidence, regarding the actual reception of satirical publications like this.