This is Boisssard's anthology of the figures to be encountered on Mount Partnassus, the metaphorical home of poetry, literature and the associated arts. Boissard (1528- 1602) was a French antiquary and poet, much travelled in his youth and who subsequently developed a taste for eccentric and evocative acquisitions to assemble a large rambling collection which he took back to France when he settled there in Metz. Much of the fun and nonsense of the Cabinet of Curiosities mentality is evident in this book. Much of its distinctive character comes from the single figure imagined with attributes realised by the engraver and artist Theodorus de Bry (1528 - 1598), one of most prolific of his profession in the sixteenth century. As a Protestant he had fled persecution. Between 1585 and 1588 he worked in London. In 1577 he settled in Antwerp. then in 1588 he and his family settled in Frankfurt.


De Bry wrote in the Foreword to Icones quinquaginta virorum illustrium (1597): "I was the offspring of parents born to an honourable station and in the first rank among the more honoured citizens of Liege. But stripped of all these belongings by accidents, cheats, and ill luck and by the depredations of robbers, I had to contend against adverse fortune so that only by my art could I fend for myself. Art alone remained to me of the ample patrimony left me by my parents. On that neither robbers nor the rapacious bands of thieves could lay hands. Art restored my former wealth and reputation, and has never failed me, its tireless devotee." He is justly celebrated for his visualisations of the distant and mysterious civilisations of North America (from the watercolours oif John White). His Book of Emblems is another sizeable achievement and a popular publishing success.