A Book of Emblems

The Emblematum Liber in Latin and English


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About the Book

Andrea Alciati’s Emblematum Liber was an essential work for every writer, artist and scholar in post-medieval Europe. First published in 1531, this illustrated book was a collection of emblems, each consisting of a motto or proverb, a typically enigmatic illustration, and a short explanation. Most of the emblems had symbolic and moral applications. Scholars depended on Alciati’s book to interpret contemporary art and literature, while writers and artists turned to it to invest their work with an understood didactic sense.
This new edition of the Emblematum Liber includes the original Latin texts, highly readable English translations, and the illustrations belonging to each of the 212 emblems. The editor’s introduction explains both the importance and the cultural contexts of Alciati’s book, as well as its innumerable artistic applications. For instance, close study of the emblems reveals—to cite only two examples—why statues of lions are traditionally placed before government buildings, and what underlying political message was conveyed by innumerable equestrian portraits during the Baroque era.
The collection includes as an appendix the formerly suppressed emblem, “Adversus Naturam Peccantes,” accompanied by a translation of the learned commentary applied to it by Johann Thuilius in 1612. An extensive bibliography points the student to scholarly research specifically dealing with artistic applications of Alciati’s emblems.
Altogether, this new edition of Alciati’s seminal work is an essential tool for modern students of the liberal arts.

About the Author(s)

The late John F. Moffitt authored, edited or translated numerous books about art history. He was an art history professor at New Mexico State University.

Bibliographic Details

Andrea Alciati
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 268
Bibliographic Info: 212 photos, appendix, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2004
pISBN: 978-0-7864-1807-7
eISBN: 978-0-7864-2706-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface      1

Introduction      5

A Book of Emblems      15

Appendix: The “Suppressed” Emblem      243

Select Bibliography      247

Index      255

Book Reviews & Awards

“accurate and careful…this book deserves to be in every library”—ARBA.