Volume 5 (2023)

Emblematica: Essays in Word and Image, Vol. 5 (2023)
Edited by Mara R. Wade
ISSN 2571-5070
ISBN-13 978-2-600-05953-4
456 p.

Preface to Volume 5

In Memoriam

Memories of Christine McCall Probes
Memories of Wolfgang Harms, Dietmar Peil, and Seraina Plotke


Michael Bath
Memorializing Mary: The Tomb of Mary Queen of Scots in Westminster Abbey

The accession of King James VI of Scotland to the throne of England, following the death of Elizabeth I, is commemorated in the two magnificent tombs which James erected to both his royal predecessors in Westminster Abbey. But the fact that Elizabeth had ordered his mother Mary Queen of Scots’ execution raises issues concerning the Union of the Crowns and the commemoration of Mary Queen of Scots in the Protestant Church of England. These issues became apparent with the discovery that the Latin inscription on Mary’s monument includes two emblems both of which had previously been used to signify the recovery of Catholics from persecution. This therefore raises the problem of explaining James’s motives for erecting a monument commemorating his mother as a Catholic martyr. The use of very similar emblems symbolizing Mary as a Catholic martyr are found in other early obsequies, such as poems by St. Robert Southwell. The history of the emblem of the vine that grows more fertile through pruning, and also of the “Three Crowns” device, in association with this and other regal unions in courtly iconography is traced in examples which are shown to including the Three Crowns badge of the Knights of the Bath, William Marshall’s well-known frontispiece to Eikon Basilica commemorating King Charles’s martyrdom, and later a pair of medals minted to celebrate the Protestant accession of William and Mary to the British throne. The way these two emblems have recurrently reflected national or sectarian differences in British polity following the 1603 Union of the Crowns is thus traced in some detail, while the question of assessing King James VI/I’s motives for initiating this emblematic tradition by erecting a monument commemorating his mother as a Catholic martyr in one of the highest temples of the Anglican church is addressed and at least tentatively resolved in recalling some key political issues surrounding the Stuart succession.

Justyna Kiliańczyk-Zięba
Imprese of Non-Noble Intellectuals as Ownership Stamps on Bookbindings. An Example from Sixteenth-Century Poland

This article analyzes the supralibros that identified the library of Marcin of Pilzno, an intellectual of humble social background active in sixteenth-century Kraków, in the Commonwealth of Poland-Lithuania. The primary intention, however, extends beyond casting light on the transnational characteristics of early modern emblematic culture that influenced both the design and perception of personal signs, supralibros included. More importantly, my analysis sets out to connect the concepts behind the design of imprese by non-noble intellectuals and their use (in this case on bookbindings) by scholars and university elites as a means of competing for social agency. My article demonstrates the active role of supralibros as both artifacts and statements in the functioning of communal structures, arguing also that “imprese on bookbindings” provide a window on sixteenth-century social imagery. Furthermore, by concentrating on supralibros, the study provides insight into an aspect of emblematic culture that has heretofore escaped scholarly attention.

Johanna Sinclair
The Granata Svampante: Alfonso I d’Este’s Projections of Strength and Prudence

Alfonso I d’Este, Duke of Ferrara (r. 1505–1534), had a reputation for military skill rooted in his innovation and employment of gunpowder artillery during the Wars of the League of Cambrai. He bolstered this image through patronage, memorializing his victories with imagery featuring humanist allusions and implicit threat. Alfonso’s ubiquitous personal emblem of the granata svampante [exploding grenade] manifested his desired message of restrained power, of fortitude and prudence. His command of this destructive weapon, to be used at the right place and time (Loco et Tempore), reflected evolving views of warfare and noble virtues in the first decade of his rule. This article examines the distinctive form, function, and meaning of Goltzius’s scriptural allegories of the late 1570s, asking how they combine two species of hermeneutic machina-that of the biblical loci communes, as codified by Coornhert, and that of the biblical emblem.

Claudia Mesa Higuera
Para-emblematic Strategies in the Colonial World: Aldabas in the Historic Center of Cartagena de Indias, Colombia

This article considers the pervading presence of aldabas [door knockers] in the urban landscape of Cartagena de Indias’s historic downtown, to argue that they manifest para-emblematic characteristics. As objects of everyday life, aldabas reflect a long-standing symbolic tradition that partially intersects with the sources and practices of more traditional emblem forms. While in key respects aldabas are analogous to emblems in their canonical configuration, they also display subversive attributes. The interplay between commonalities with, and diversions from, the norm calls for their study in relation to what is traditionally considered emblematic. As detachable decorations, aldabas reflect the artistic possibilities embedded in the etymology of the word “emblema” as an inlaid piece or attachment. Placed within door frames, such as emblems printed in books, they ask the viewer to engage them as symbols set inside borders that invite decoding and interpretation. The study of aldabas in connection with the emblematic has the potential to extend discussions of emblem-adjacent forms and contribute to the dialog surrounding the emblem canon in the context of colonial Latin America.

Tamar Abramson
The Donatello Code: Attis-Amorino as a Pre-Emblematic Riddle

The meaning of Donatello’s unique bronze sculpture Attis-Amorino (ca. 1435–40) has confounded scholars for over five centuries. Rather than proposing another reading of its elusive subject matter, this article suggests that the statue, which was created in a humanistic environment, was purposely conceived as an unsolvable riddle for its erudite viewers. Donatello’s other sculptures, such as Gattamelata (1447–53) and the San Lorenzo pulpits (1460–66), were similarly formulated and include details only an informed viewer could appreciate. This research demonstrates that the discussion initiated by viewers was the intended purpose of the statue, making it a precedent for the way emblems were read. This discursive feature of Donatello’s work suggests its position as a pre-emblematic art form.

Rebecca M. Howard
Giovio’s Impresa: Portrait of the Concetto

The impresa, a combination of image and motto associated with a particular person, is codified in various treatises published in mid-Cinquecento Italy. Paolo Giovio’s Dialogo dell’imprese miltari et amorose was an early, influential example of these period treatises. Giovio’s explanations of the form of the impresa coincide with the growing attention being paid to and discussion surrounding the notion of the concetto (initial ideas and internal conceptions behind outward displays of intellect). This essay explores parallels between the impresa and the concetto alongside the early modern preoccupation with commemoration, which is also expressed in the period’s portraiture.

Deanna Smid
The Emblematist as Harmonizer: Henry Peacham and the Art of Descant

Henry Peacham’s emblem “Tantó Dulcius” [So much sweeter] is a rarity among English emblems, for its pictura is composed of a line of musical notation. Peacham’s interest in, and knowledge of, early modern theories of concordant and discordant intervals are apparent in the notation itself, in the emblem’s marginal notes, and in the accompanying poem. “Tantó Dulcius,” moreover, invites a critical approach that can be applied to other English emblems as well, for the interplay between borrowed picturae, commonplace mottos, and poems or epigrams defines the role of the emblematist as a musician, descanting upon a plainsong.

Alicja Bielak
Singing Emblems:The Function of Emblematic Initials in the Seventeenth-Century Carmelite Gradual from Cracow

Although the wide spread of emblems in early modern culture is well known, their coexistence with music still remains underexamined. The aim of this article is to describe the emblematic constructions in the Graduale carmelitarum de sanctis by an anonymous author which is preserved in the library of the Carmelite Monastery at Piasek in Cracow (Poland) and their relationship to the liturgical year. In the context of the emblematic tradition, this gradual from the second half of the seventeenth century is interesting for two reasons. First, it is the earliest known example of the reception of Tomasz Treter’s emblem collection Symbolica vitae Christi meditatio (1612). Second, and more importantly, it is the first known example of the use of emblems in a gradual. The graphic sources (besides Tomasz Treter) of initials include emblems by Paolo Giovio, Silvester Pietrasanta, Jan Ziarnko, and Sebastianus a Matre Dei. The gradual offers valuable insight into the use of multisensory media in Carmelite liturgical practices after the Council of Trent. The erudite emblems present in the gradual require the user to know the structure of the Mass as well as the context for the symbols which can be found both in the Bible and emblematic tradition.


Tara Nummedal and Donna Bilak, eds.
Furnace and Fugue: A Digital Edition of Michael Maier’s “Atalanta fugiens” (1618) with Scholarly Commentary,
by Raz Chen-Morris

Carme López Calderón.
Applied Emblems in the Cathedral of Lugo: European Sources for a Spanish Cycle Addressed to the Virgin Mary,
by John T. Cull

Michael La Corte.
Emblematik als Teil der profanen Innenraumgestaltung deutscher Schlösser und Herrenhäuser Vorkommen—Form—Funktion,
by Daniel Fulco

Simon McKeown.
Sacred Emblems in Western Sweden. Brita Christina Bonde, Johan Runius, and the Tådene Panels, by Ingrid Höpel

Angeliki Pollali and Berthold Hub, eds.
Images of Sex and Desire in Renaissance Art and Modern Historiography,
by Sara F. Matthews-Grieco

Hans WesJohann Anselm Steiger, Michael Schilling, and Stefanie Arend.
Sinnbilder im Sakralraum. Die Kirche in Lucklum—Ein Kompendium der geistlichen Emblematik der frühen Neuzeit,
by Dietmar Peil

Volume Index