University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)
Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies
Friday, November 15, 2013
Figures of Passion, Starting with Cesare Ripa
Paolo Fabbri (LUISS, Rome)
Beginning with Paolo Giovio’s Dialogo dell’imprese militari e amorose (1555), the book was set forth as the medium par excellence for emblems, which fostered the perception—in part through the simplified drawings such books contained—that emblems were simply abstract and intangible.
Yet these devices have an influence beyond books and printed matter. By the late Middle Ages, emblems appeared in diverse media, including painting, sculpture, jewelry, arms and armor, and textiles. They played an integral role in triumphal parades, wedding celebrations, and in representations depicting such public events, proclaiming the political and dynastic allegiances of the participants. In religious settings, emblems served didactic and homiletic purposes.
Inspired by literature, philosophy, hieroglyphic and biblical hermeneutics, emblems represent the ultimate distillation of art, both visual and verbal. To fully understand and appreciate these devices demands an interdisciplinary approach drawing upon the perspectives of art history, literary theory, and semiotic analysis. Body and soul—image and word—are inseparable aspects of emblems.
This symposium will explore the complex nature of emblems as polysemic and multifunctional works of art from the Renaissance to the present day.