Error processing SSI file

Books on Signs and Symbols from the
Arnold Semeiology Collection



ANDREA ALCIATI (1492-1550)
Declaración Magistral sobre las Emblemas de Andres Alciato.
Valencia, Jerónimo Vilagrasa, 1670.

Originally published in Latin under the title Emblematum Liber at Augsburg in 1531, Alciati's work became perhaps the most widely used and admired of the emblem books produced during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and was translated into French, Italian, and Spanish. Under the influences of Egyptian hieroglyphs, viewed as ideographs, Alciati was the first to fully develop emblems, defined by Mario Praz as "things (representations of objects) which illustrate a conceit." Accordingly, Alciati's emblem books are collections of short verses containing moral reflections, each illustrated by an emblem, or hieroglyph. Many of these verses are translations from the Planudean Anthology, others are derived from Pliny, Stobaeus, and Pausanias. In this edition of 1670 the verses, in Latin, are accompanied by poorly executed wood and copper engravings of an unknown artist. Appended to each emblem are extensive notes in Spanish by Diego López (d. 1655), a schoolmaster at Toro, Spain, whose edition of Alciati first appeared at Najera in 1615. (Green 167; NUC 7:501 (NA 0147391); Palau 7:610)


JACOB BOSCH (fl. 1701)
Symbolographia, sive De Arte Symbolica Sermones Septem.
Augsburg, Johan Kaspar Bencard, 1702.

Devices from the 'Symbolographia' of Jacob Bosch

Prominent among the producers of emblem and device books were members of the various religious orders. A device has been defined by Mario Praz as "a symbolical representation of a purpose, a wish, a line of conduct...by means of a motto and picture which reciprocally interpret each other." In Symbolographia the Jesuit Bosch produced a work dealing with the entire range of hieroglyphic devices, portraying religious, heroic, moral, and character-of-life themes. Preceding each group of devices are short explanatory notations concerning the allegorical symbolism employed. Included are 2052 devices, engraved by Johan Georg wolfgang and Jacob Müller. First published in 1701, this issue includes an engraved portrait of Karl, Archduke of Austria (1685-1740), later Emperor Karl VI, to whom the work is dedicated. (Landwehr (G) 144; NUC 67:564 (NB 0661941))


B. DELACHENAYE (fl. 1811)
Abécédaire de Flore; ou, Langage des Fleurs.
Paris, Imprimerie de P. Didot l'Aine, 1811.

In this work, Delachénaye offers his reader an alphabet of flowers. By substituting flowers, most of whose names begin with sucessive letters of the alphabet, for various individual letters, one would have, he claims, an appropriate visual alphabet to represent, or symbolize beautiful thoughts and words. Appended to the main work are three sections containing descriptions of flowers and birds, followed by a brief essay on the symbolic use of flowers in emblems and devices. (NUC 137:291 (ND 0131144))


HENRY ESTIENNE, SIEUR DES FOSSEZ (17th cent.)
The Art of Making Devices.
London, Richard Marriot, 1646.

Estienne's work first appeared in French at Paris in 1645. Dealing primarily with the theory of devices, Art discusses their design, their relationship to emblems, and the common derivation of both from Egyptian hieroglyphs. The appearance of Estienne's work in a translation by Thomas Blount (1618-1679) reflects a widespread taste for device and emblem literature in England, despite the genre's failure to flourish there. Its poor engravings reflect the imitativecharacter of the illustrations used in many seventeenth century British books of emblems and devices. (Galland p. 61; NUC 162:608 (NE 0180327); Praz p. 330; Wing E33500)


HORAPOLLO (4th cent. A.D.?)
Hieroglyphica Graece & Latine.
Utrecht, Melchior. Léonard Charlois, 1727.

Horapollo'sHieroglyphica began a fashion for Egyptian hieroglyphs whose influence continued well into the eighteenth century. The Greek text, said to have been translated from an Egyptian original by a certain Philippus, otherwise unknown, was first published in an edition of Aesop printed at Venice in 1505 by Aldo Pio Manuzio. A Latin translation appeared at Augsburg in 1515, and numerous editions followed. This edition of 1727 contains both the Greek and Latin texts, and includes commentaries by Jean Mercier (d. 1570), David Hoeshel (1556-1617), and Nicolas Caussin (1583-1651), author of Symbolica Aegyptiorum Sapienia (Cologne, 1522). This copy bears the signed autograph presentation of the editor, Johannes Cornelius de Pauw (d. 1749).

Horapollo's work, in essence, is an explanation of Egyptian hieroglyphs interpreted as visual forms of abstract ideas, in other words, as emblems. Although the work of Jean François Champollion (1790-1832) and later writers has shown this view to be in error, nevertheless, at least thirteen of Horapollo's hieroglyphs are known to be correct. Horapollo's work also had its influence on letter forms. As George Boas has pointed out, Geofroy Tory, whose Champ Fleury appeared in Paris in 1529, views the shape of letters as having a mystical meaning, a view taken by Tory from Horapollo and passed on by him to François Rabelais (1490-1553). (NUC 254:484 (NH 0517745); Praz p. 374)


HRABANUS MAURUS, ARCHBISHOP OF MAINZ (784?-856)
De Laudib[us] Sancte Crucis Opus.
Pforzheim, Thomas Anshelm, 1503.

Symbols of the four evangelists and the lamb from the figure poem of
Hrabanus Maurus

This somewhat remarkable book is the first edition of the author's poem "In Praise of the Holy Cross." The piece is printed as a figure poem, that is, a poem over which are superimposed a variety of figures. These include Christ Crucified, evangelistic symbols, cherubim, and King Louis the Pious of France. Some pages were printed entirely from movable type. In more complicated instances, the entire page is cut with its figures on wood in imitation of type. In still other cases, the letters immediately surrounding the figure are cut on the block, while the remaining area of the page is filled in with movable type. Although figure poems were common in manuscripts, the De Laudibus Sancte Crucis is the first instance of this form of symbolic poetry to appear in printed form. Included in the work are several neo-Latin poems by Johann Reuchlin (1455-1522), Sebastian Brant (1458-1521), and other humanists. (Adams R3; Murray 350; NUC 257:463 (NH 0566875-78))


GIOVANNI DE RINALDI (fl. 1584-1599)
Il Mostrvosissimi Mostro.
Venice, Lucio Spineda, 1599.

First published at Ferrara in 1584, Rinaldi's work also appeared under the title Il Vago, et Dilettevole, Giardino (Pavia, 1593). The two parts of this work deal with the iconology of colors, and the symbolism of herbs and flowers. Rinaldi aims at teaching the manner of explicating emblems and allegories. Bound with this copy are two similar works by Pellegrino Morato and Sicile. The Significato dei Colori e de' Mazzoli (Venice, 1599) of Fulvio Pellegrino Morato deals with the symbolism of flowers and colors. The Trattato dei Colori delle Arme nelle Livree et nelle Divise (Venice, 1599) of Sicile, herald to Alphonso V, Kind of Aragon, deals with color symbolism in heraldry. (Graesse VI:125)


GIOVANNI PIERO VALERIANO BOLZANI (1477-1558?)
Hieroglyphica, sev De Sacris Aegyptiorvm, Aliavmqve Gentivm Literis Commentarii.
Lyons, Thomas Soubron, 1594.

Originally published at Basel in 1556, and dedicated to Cosimo de'Medici (1519-1574), Hieroglyphica is the first modern study of Egyptian hieroglyphs. In the humanist tradition of Alciati, Valeriano brings together the allegorical symbolism of mediaeval bestiaries and the symbolic approach to Egyptian writing. While drawing on Horapollo, Valeriano views his own Hieroglyphica as a supplement to and improvement of that author. Thus, like Horapollo, he endeavors to explain Egyptian hieroglyphs as abstract concepts in visual form, as pictorial symbols revealing divine truths. At the same time, Valeriano attempts to explain other pagan mysteries, and therefore collates a wide variety of passages from ancient authors which deal with visual symbolism. However, Hieroglyphica is more often marked by the erudition and imagination of its author than by sound judgment, and its chief weakness is Valeriano's Neoplatonist insistence on drawing a wholly consistent allegorical interpretation of all ancient mythology. This particular edition includes notes by Celio Agostino Curione (1538-1567). (Baudrier IV:357)


Return to the introductory page.
Special Collections Home

Error processing SSI file
Last update:  Variable 'LAST_MODIFIED' cannot be evaluated
Page maintained by spec@wulib.wustl.edu
Error processing SSI file