Trvth Brought to Light and Discouered by Time

We don’t actively collect pages torn out of books but we have them. Some are easier to trace than others. This half-title page from a folder labeled seventeenth century leaves was designed and engraved by Flemish artist John Droeshout (1596-ca. 1652) while working in London. It was printed by Richard Cotes and sold by Michaell Sparke in 1651 to accompany a volume concerning the poisoning of Sir Thomas Overbury (1581-1613) and its aftermath.

When you go to the actual book, entitled The Narrative History of King James, for the First Fourteen Years (Ex 14431.669) you will not only find the engraving happily bound in it place but the “Emblematical Title explained” next to it. This text explains the print’s iconography beginning in the top left where a naked female figure of Truth tramples on Error. On the right the male figure of Time stands on the skeletal body of Death. Together they pull back a curtain to reveal the sleeping King James I. At the bottom left is Memory with his feet holding down black Oblivion. On the lower right is History, writing down what Memory tells him, with Sloth under his feet. Between them is a coffin, out of which grows a tree sprouting books and lights to make “succeeding Times most rich and rare.”