Display | Bad-boy Adrian Beverland

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on September 1, 2018

Now on view at the Rijksmuseum:

Bad-boy Adrian Beverland / Hadriaan Beverland
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, 26 April — 17 September 2018

Isaak Beckett, after Simon Dubois, Portrait of Adrian Beverland Drawing a Statue of Venus, ca. 1685–90 (Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum).

On display in Gallery 2.21 is a small exhibition of the work of 17th-century bad-boy Adrian Beverland (1650–1716), a Dutch classicist who devoted his studies exclusively to one subject: sex! The display in this gallery of a selection of fourteen portraits, publications, and erotic prints from Beverland’s collection offers a tantalising glimpse into his intriguing life and his predilection for erotica.

For many years, Beverland worked on an encyclopaedia of eroticism in the ancient world entitled De Prostibulis Veterum (On the Prostitution of the Classics). But it was never published. When another provocative treatise by Beverland appeared in print in 1679, he was banished from the Dutch provinces of Holland, Zeeland and West-Friesland. His reputation as a scholar lay in ruins.

The disgraced classicist moved to London, where he built up a new life, earning a respectable living as an agent in art and literature and hunting out interesting antiquities, shells, and manuscripts for wealthy collectors. But the delights of erotica still beckoned, and Beverland continued his studies in secret. He illustrated his notes with intriguing, erotic collages comprising cut-out fragments of prints, and he was apparently unable to restrain himself from referring to his bad-boy status in curious portraits of himself. In one we see a mischievous Beverland drawing the bare buttocks of a statue of Venus.

Those wishing to find out more about Adrian Beverland will be interested to know that Joyce Zelen, an Andrew W. Mellon Fellow, is currently studying the life of this ostracised eroticist. Her research into Beverland’s portraits will be published in the Rijksmuseum Bulletin later this year, and the complete results of her broader study of Beverland will appear in a year’s time.

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