Pieter de Jode (I): The four temperaments (1590-1632)


(Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

A set of 4 engravings by the Flemish artist Pieter de Jode the Elder (1570 - 1634). These engravings show the 'four temperaments' - a theory from the ancient world until the 19th century according to which certain human moods (temperaments) were caused by an excess or lack of body fluids (called 'humors': blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm). Depending on the dominant humor, people were roughly divided into four temperaments:

- Choleric (top left): people with too much yellow bile. These people are connected to the element fire and are determined, quick to act, result-oriented, fiery, energetic, leaders, passionate. The print shows a soldier and a sutler and in the background people are fighting and pillaging with building on fire.

- Melancholic (top right): people with too much black bile. These people are connected to the element of  earth and are artistic, organized, analytical, suspicious, introverted, .The print shows an old man offering jewels and money to a melancholic woman, notice the scientific instruments in the right corner.

- Phlegmatic (bottom left): people with too much phlegm. These people are are connected to the element of water and are calm, balanced, steady, tolerant, loyal, easygoing, stoic, unemotional. The print shows a fisherman with his wife while in the background people are fishing.

- Sanguine (bottom right): people with 'too much blood'. These people are connected to the element of air and are energetic, affectionate, open-minded, optimistic, creative, carefree, lively, sociable, open, impulsive, volatile, superficial, easily distracted. The print shows a man playing on a lute and a woman singing. In the background people are dancing.

Engravings from 1590-1632.

Comments