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Emblematic Structures in Renaissance French Culture

Emblematic Structures in Renaissance French Culture

Copyright Date: 1995
Pages: 352
  • Book Info
    Emblematic Structures in Renaissance French Culture
    Book Description:

    Daniel Russell demonstrates how the emblematic forms emerged from the way illustrations were used in late medieval French manuscript culture, how the forms were later disseminated in France, and how they functioned within early modern French culture and society.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-2347-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-14)

    The emblem was a highly self-conscious enactment of a particular kind of rhetorical image, which lay somewhere between late medieval allegory and the Romantic metaphor as they were understood in the modernist lexicon of rhetoric and poetics. What this study posits as the emblematic image was more extended, and built on more commonly accepted analogies, than the Romantic metaphor, but it rarely extended into a narrative as allegory did, nor did it use the traditional analogies in the previously expected ways. Such images dominated rhetorical discourse between the early sixteenth century and the coming of Romanticism in the middle of...

  6. Part I Medieval and Early Renaissance Antecedents

    • 1 Book Illustration in Medieval France and the Relation between Picture and Text in the Later Middle Ages
      (pp. 17-38)

      Most of the illustrated Greek rolls that have been preserved contain scientific works where the illustrations are embedded in the narrow columns of text in order to elucidate specific techniques or diagram scientific theories and proofs. These illustrations are situated at the exact point in the text to be clarified and, lacking any frame, they sometimes actually seem to merge with the text. As the codex came to replace the roll for all but a few specialized uses in the period between the second and fourth centuries A.D., the columns of text became wider, thus leaving more space for illustration....

    • 2 The Allegorical Antecedents
      (pp. 39-56)

      Even though seventeenth-century theoreticians of the emblematic forms claimed that the emblem was allegorical, and that it is distinguished from the metaphorical device by its allegorical character,¹ the emblem almost never developed as an allegory – at least not in the way we understand the term ‘allegory’ today. An allegory is now commonly understood to be an extended metaphor in which the vehicle, to use I.A. Richards’ terminology,² is sometimes quite elaborate while the tenor remains unexpressed, but clearly indicated by the components and structure of the vehicle. Naturally, the situation is, in practice, more complicated than this,³ but generally an...

    • 3 Proto-emblematics in the Fifteenth Century
      (pp. 57-88)

      During the second half of the fifteenth century, the rather complicated textual structure of the kind surrounding thehistoiresin Christine de Pisan’sEpistre Otbeagives way to a much simpler combination of picture and text in the collections of illustrated proverbs, which ateliers, especially in Lyons, were beginning to produce. The union of picture and text is closer here, and more self-consciously essential, because the obvious function of the picture is to literalize the image of a well-known proverb in a concrete illustration that keeps the idea visually present to the audience while the text develops a moral application...

    • 4 Proto-emblematics in the Early Sixteenth Century
      (pp. 89-110)

      The decade when François Ier came to the throne was a period of intense proto-emblematic activity at court, and much of this activity centred on the queen mother, Louise de Savoye. The French court apparently became interested in ‘hieroglyphic’ signs in 1509 following Louis XII’s return from Venice, where Aldus had just published theHypnerotomachia Poliphiliin 1499, and Horapollo’sHieroglyphicsin 1505. Horapollo’sHieroglyphicswere partially translated into French for the queen mother shortly after François took the throne, and their translator described them as useful when one wanted to ‘escripre les gestes des Roys en marbre et tapisserie.’...

  7. Part II Emblems in Renaissance France

    • 5 Alciato and the Humanist Background of the Emblem
      (pp. 113-124)

      In spite of numerous early Renaissance prototypes and late medieval compositions that might even be considered emblems in everything but name, it was Andrea Alciato (1492–1550), an eminent Italian humanist and jurist of international reputation who, in the 1520s and 1530s, shaped the emblem idea around a word pregnant with aesthetic and epistemological implications. Around 1530, he exploited the idea in a collection of about one hundred emblems in a more or less fixed form that included a title, a picture, and a verse text, often epigrammatic in shape and construction.¹ He added a few emblems to subsequent editions...

    • 6 The Dissemination of the Emblem Idea in France
      (pp. 125-150)

      In the years immediately following Christian Wechel’s publication of theEmblematum libellusin 1534, the French appear to have been more receptive to Alciato’s idea than any other culture in Europe. So they would continue to be throughout the first generation of emblem books. The transition to a second generation clearly took place in the decade of the 1560s. Following the lead of Achille Bocchi’sSymbolicarum Quaestionum,published in Bologna in 1555, printers began to use copperplate engravings in preference to woodblocks in illustrating emblem books; it was then that France ceased to be the centre for the production of...

    • 7 The Construction of the Early French Emblem
      (pp. 151-188)

      InThe Emblem and Device in France,I analysed the sixteenth-century theoretical understanding – if one can call it that – of the emblem in France, and the differences perceived to exist between the emblem and related forms like thedevise, impresa, revers de médaille,enigma, and hieroglyphics. In practice, the emblem was understood somewhat differently, and much more broadly than it was in any theoretical writings that have come down to modern scholarship. More important, there is wide discrepancy between the actual construction of emblems in sixteenth-century French emblem books and most modern definitions of the form.

      No emblem book published...

  8. Part III Emblematics and the Structuring of a Culture

    • 8 Emblematics and Court Culture
      (pp. 191-220)

      ‘Applied emblematics’ are typically the last subject treated in a study of emblems, but paradoxically, it is only to the extent that parallels and analogues may be found between emblems and other cultural phenomena of theancien régimethat emblems in themselves are relevant to the broader study of cultural history. As I have suggested elsewhere, it is historically most interesting to understand the emblem as a particularly revealing symptom of an epistemological condition that colours thought and, especially, its expression from the late fifteenth through the early eighteenth centuries. As a result, it is sometimes heuristically fruitful to characterize...

    • 9 Emblematic Structures in Renaissance Literature
      (pp. 221-236)

      One elegant manuscript of Marguerite de Navarre’sHeptameron,dated 8 August 1553, is bound in red and green morocco with a cartouche on the cover bearing the device of a vine twined around a tree trunk, with the mottoSin’ et doppo la morte,together with the monogram of Adrien de Thou.¹ This binding goes far in reminding us that Marguerite spent her life in an intellectual and artistic milieu heavily influenced by emblematics. Although her own sunflower device, with the mottoNon inferior a secutus,was criticized on technical grounds in the seventeenth century,² it was clearly quite famous...

  9. Conclusion
    (pp. 237-242)

    The emblematic process was an act of contextualization. As Michael Camille, among others, has noted, late medieval art neededtituli,and other textual explanations, in order to limit and delimit the meaning of visual signs.² Despite what may have been a nostalgia for an ideogrammatic system that reflected a monolithic view of the world and the cosmos in a complex, but ultimately monovalent, constellation of signs, the Christian Middle Ages in the West, at least in its later years, saw a multiplication of the meaning of visual signs. Earlier the multiple senses of a sign were fused in a way...

  10. Abbreviations
    (pp. 243-244)
  11. Notes
    (pp. 245-292)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 293-316)
  13. Index of Manuscripts
    (pp. 317-319)
  14. Index of Motifs
    (pp. 320-322)
  15. Index of Names and Key Terms
    (pp. 323-335)