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.
For many years, Beverland worked on an encyclopaedia of eroticism in the ancient world entitled
The disgraced classicist decided to move 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 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.
This is the first in a monthly series of articles highlighting small exhibitions at the Rijksmuseum. This month: 17th-century bad-boy Adrian Beverland, on view until September 17.