Emblems and the Natural World
The multiple connections between emblematics and Natural History in the broader perspective of their underlying artistic, literary, political and religious ideologies.
- Karl A.E. Enenkel & Paul J. Smith (Eds.)
- 01 September 2017
Since its invention by Andrea Alciato (Emblematum liber, 1531), the emblem is inextricably connected to the natural world. Alciato and his followers drew their inspiration heavily from it. For their information about nature, the emblem authors were greatly indebted to ancient natural history (Aristotle, Pliny), the medieval bestiaries, and the 15th- and 16th-century proto-emblematics, especially the imprese. The natural world became the main topic of, for instance, Joachim Camerarius’s botanical and zoological emblem books (1590-1604), and also of the ‘applied’ emblematics in paintings, drawings (Joris Hoefnagel) and the decorative arts (embroideries, roof- and wall-painting). Emblems on animals are regularly quoted by early modern naturalists like Conrad Gessner and Ulisse Aldrovandi , and integrated into their encyclopaedic volumes on natural history. The emblem’s protean connections with the natural world had – rightly or wrongly – led modern historians of science to coin the term ‘emblematic worldview’.
This interdisciplinary volume aims to address the multiple connections between emblematics and Natural History in the broader perspective of their underlying artistic, literary, political and religious ideologies.