Emblematica, Vol. 17

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"Emblems, Frames, and Other Marginalia: Defining the Emblematic," by Daniel Russell (1-40)

understanding the emblematic as part of a broader cultural move toward mobile/circulating signs/fragments

"emblems remain frustratingly marginal in relation tot he historical narratives of the various disciplines" (1) -- literally at the margins of many tapestries

emblema -- attached but removable ornament

"That kind of emblem was always a somewhat foreign object attached to, inserted in, or grafted onto something else and retained at best an ambivalent and marginal relation to that host." (2)

in descriptions of tapestries, marginal emblems slowly move to the center

"The number of emblem books produced during the early modern period and the number of editions printed shows very clearly taht emblematics certainly played an important role in that culture; the challenge arises in trying to explain how this came about and what that role may have been. It is the goal of this study to exploit the positive potential of that marginality for understanding the role of the emblem in the evolution of the episteme of the time." (3)
"Originating from a Greek verb meaning to throw, to put in, or insert, the Latin emblema referred to a detachable ornament, a graft, a mosaic or other inlaid work." (3)

was transmitted through legal meaning, and literary/rhetorical; see Dennis Drysdall (2005)

legal meaning: dates back to the Digest and "generally referred to detachable oranments on silverware as described in the legal documentation for the transfer of property by inheritance or sale", or to a container and its contents (3)

literary/figurative sense recovered by humanists in 15c; referring to "detachable rhetorical ornaments and commonplaces" -- stile a mosaic (4)

another related word, “Pegma”, word Coustau used to title his 1555 collection of emblems; see Hayaert [in French] – “pegme” entered French around 1550 from the Greek by way of Latin; in Latin it referred to furniture, like staging or bookcases; but also theatrical machinery designed to lift actors; later referred to framing and foregrounding – reliquary, shrine, niche, setting (5)

"Costau uses the singular form, pegma, suggesting that he was thinking of a library or gallery, or museum in which images and artifacts are arranged along with the texts in the frames on each page." (5)

both Alciato and Costau are jurists


"The emblematic process, then, may be seen as a framing practice used for cutting [7]fragments from traditional works or corpora and shaping them into new configurations of meaning as determined by the framing text. The standard model for the construction of an emblem sets the picture between the text of the inscriptio and te text of the subscriptio. As such, the typeset composition of the emblem adn its layout or mise en page made its text into a literal, physical frame as much as that text provided a new context and metaphorical frame for the modified interpretation of the image." (67) --cf's to dual language texts

Derrida, uses "parergon" to describe "Remarks" in Kant's third Critique

"A parergon is osmething that is situated at the extremities of the work. It is a limit or border. To the extent that the parergon is a frame, it defines and limits the artistic work. The frame is detachable, but not easily so. It is really part of both what is intrinsic and what is extrinsic to the work; it is both outside and inside. It can be ornamental, but it can be so in two contrasting ways: it can enhance the value of the work or it can distract, or detract, from it." (7)
"All early emblems were parerga in some sense, that is, either physical ornaments to be used by craftsmen or rhetorical ornaments of the truths they framed or carried or highlighted while remaining peripheral and unessential to the expression of those truths: interpolation was the tool with which they were made." (9)
"If this emerging configuration of terminology is partially synonymous with the emblematic, then the emblematic must to be [sic] viewed in a somewhat different way from the one that informs modern emblem studies. The emblematic does not turn on formal distinctions, but can take many forms. I tis above all parasitic, marginal, and always in need of a host. It is parasitic to the extent that it takes from the original host and transforms the borrowed material into something new or different. It is marginal because it lodges at the boundaries of the new host. The emerging understanding of the emblematic casts a new light on emblems as they are presented in anthology sand theme-oriented emblem books." (10)

pursues royal entries as an example of emblematic culture

"Interpolation occurs whenever two cultural corpora -- for example, ancient mythology and royal entries, as in this case -- collide. In the shock of this encounter, a fragment is detached from one of the two bodies to become, by interpolation, an emblem ornamenting some element of the other corpous to which it is attached by a process of adaptation of the fragment to a new use, without, however, completely losing its relation to the corpus from which it has been detached and borrowed, because it is so well known. The tension thus created by the fragment temporarily belonging to two corpora produces the interest of the new interepretation." (14)

connects emblem books to wunderkammer or kunstkammer -- "with no center and no structural organization" (18)

because emblem is a fragment, it becomes polysemous (old and new context); added text helped anchor it to a single meaning, which Russell sees all emblems as intending; framing helped reinforce and bind together the connection between text and image (19)

"The border of the space thus cut from the reader's field of vision frame text and image and bind a text or quotation grounded in one cultural corpus with an image from another corpus ... An emblem, then, is put together within a system of frames, since the idea of the 'book' was still not very clear, and books were often still anthologized collections of varied texts, often put together for largely commercial reasons" (20)

printed frames became less prominent in 17c emblem books; collections did in fact begin to have "clear unifying theme" and "the marginal emblems of earlier collections became the partially internalized components of a central unity" (21)

assembled paintings evolving into genre paintings -- citing Stoichita on how paintings began relegating main subject to the margins, and the margins to the center; biblical scenes in frames behind kitchen still lifes

connects mobility of emblems to technology of moveable type, moveable framed paintings (not frescos and wall paintings); commonplaces; mobility of the woodcut image (31)

"there was a tension between the immobility of the past and the mobility that increasingly dominated the relation between text and image in early modern Europe. This tension was produced by the rivalry between relief printing with wood blocks or movable type and intaglio copperplate printing. Relief printing was used almost exclusively in producing block books, early emblems, and the like Intaglio printing was known and practiced in Europe since the late 15c, but it was not much used in France in the first two-thirds of the sixteenth century. There seem to be two reasons why this happened. Since woodcuts used the same kind of relief printing as the new movable type, text and image could be produced in the same shop with the same techniques and perhaps some of the same equipment. That meant the entire process could be controlled by a single printer or publisher. This centralization reinforced the metaphor of the unity of picture and text. And since the art of the small woodblock was more highly developed in France than anywhere else in Europe at the time, it is quite natural to find the emblem idea developing mainly in France in the mid 16c." (33)

first French emblem book produced with copperplates -- Georgette de Montenay's Emblemes ou devises chrestiennes (1567)

  • used uncommon italic font, making it look like both text and image were engraved on the same plate; only printed on the recto not verso (verso was blank) -- looks like block book
  • four names attached to publication of this work: de Montenay (author), Philippe de Castellas (publisher/bookseller), Jean Marcorelle (publisher/printer), Pierre Woeriot (artist); "suggests a decentralization of control in the production of a book and a dvision of labor with increased power accruing to the artist."

text and image engraved on a single plate realized in Crispin de Passe's editions of Gabriel Rollenhagen's emblems of early 17c

copperplate engravings "came to dominate the production of illustrations in France after the influx of Flemish printers in Paris following the sack of Antwerp in 1576" (34)

"When both text and image occupied a single block, there must have been an impulse to understand the image as linked to the text in some absolute, inextricable way. But when the copperplate illustration was combined with a text printed in relief, as was more and more often the case, that union was much less evident , and thus began the slow decline of the emblem idea. To take root and flourish, the emblem needed a set of conditions that were present only for a few years in France in the middle of the sixteenth century." (34)
"The emblematic image is a detachable rhetorical ornament. That is, it adds nothing [35] substantial to the discourse to which it is attached. Although it may help to understand that discourse better, its main function is to attract attention to the message being presented and bring it into sharper focus. As such, it is a secondary and marginal component of the body to which it is attached. Since it has been detached from some other corpus and is expected to continue to refer implicitly to that corpus, it needs a frame to keep from being absorbed into the new site." (34-5)

"An Emblematic Embroidery in the Burrell Collection," by Michael Bath (181-190)

set of five emblems worked in wool on linen in cross-stich with outlines worked with silver or gold in chain stitch

each is symbolic image and Latin motto

close to Mary Queen of Scots emblem embroideries from Hardwick

see note 4 for other studies of emblems in embroideries: "Daly, "England and the Emblem"; Swain, "The Needlework of Mary Queen of Scots"; Leisher, Whitney's A Choice of Emblemes and Its Relation to the Emblematic Vogue; also Arthur 1995 pl. 17-18 for embroideries of 2 Alciato emblems copied in Whitney; also Bath, "Emblems from Whitney on an Embroidered Bed Valance in The Burrell Collection"

3 of 5 show details use in the decoration of the lacunar ceiling of the "Haute Gallerie" in the Chateau of Dampierre-sur-Boutonne (Charnte Inferieure)

embroideries and ceiling are more similar to each other than they are to putative printed sources; either one was known to the other, or there was a lost common source

"Picture -- Pattern -- Poeiesis: Visuality, the Emblem, and Seventeenth-Century English Religious Lyric," by Kristen L. Olson (271-298)

Richard Crashaw, Francis Quarles, Christopher Harvey, George Herbert as "poets who seem to map out the space between word and picture. Their religious lyric marks [272] a transition point between visual representation in emblem picturae and linguistic picturation as each poet uses a distinct method to link visuality with meditative poetry. My argument will suggest a distinction between what can be termed a diegetic mode of poetic expression and a mimetic figuration inhering in formal design. The diegetic is descriptive, ekphrastic, and narrative, remaining invested in the pictorial image presented 'to the eye' of the reader for contemplation. In contrast, the mimetic translates the figurative power of the pictorial into a verbal context through a poetics that is spatial or architectonic, creating a visuality in which rhetorical structure takes over the pictorial role of the emblematic image." (271) -- diegesis and mimesis borrowed from Genette

"The emblematic poem asks the reader to reconcile the openness of its setructure through contemplating the extended relation of text and image whereas the iconic poem specifically employs language to access the transfigurative power of the pictorial." (273)

Crashaw's religious lyric is "fundamentally iconic, his visuality pictorial. His meditative praxis emphasizes the centrality of the image, drawing on its power as a natural sign. This emphasis reveals a Platonic investment in the image as transcendental catalyst and a concurrent reliance on ekphrasis as the dominant poetic technique." (273)

Crashaw's ekphrasis -- "his poem culminates in a moment frozen into an image, which itself yields the moment of meditative transcendence. Words and image are made equivalent (equi-valent) in Crashaw's poiesis, his ekphrasis presenting the reader a 'frozen ideal' for contemplation, the catalyst to Platonic insight." (276)

"The use of pictorial language to render the contemplative image therefore remains Crashaw's fundamental compositional technique." (277)

poem to Countess of Denbigh, has a completed emblem beside a poem that also creates a picture of locked heart -- the poem "equates these two forms, however; it does not inter-animate them. The ekphrastic text stands in perfect parallel to the visual composite of the emblem, itself an extended image -- both entities, for Crashaw, representing iconic pictorial manifestations. Essentially, thus, Crashaw is not an emblematic poet. His appeal to visuality is centered in the transcendental power he locates in the image itself. The image is the site of contemplation and the means by which to access meditative revelation, its power abiding in its vivid singularity." (278)

"Crashaw's ekphrasis accordingly reveals a poetic method consistent with Jesuit meditative practice and an Augustinian and Ignatian investment in the Platonic transcendentalism of the iconic natural sign. The words become an image, which represents and thus becomes a moment of illuminated understanding. This objective distinguishes Crashaw's poetic practice from that of Harvey, Quarles, and Herbert, whose meditative poetics employ visuality in a substantively different way. Their heuristic elaborates on the process of contemplative activity, poeticizing the act of exegesis. Their poetry thus represents a fundamental difference in the theoretical understanding of visuality, distinguishing 'image' from 'imagined' rhetorical structure." (278)
"In the movement from pictorial embleme to emblematic poem, language takes over the pictorial role of the emblematic image, shifting rhetorical emphasis from picture to formal composite. This poiesis does not use the diegetic visuality associated with Crashaw's meditative process; rather, it invokes a mimetic visuality through rhetorical design, asking the reader to reconcile the relation among the disparate formal elements of the devotional text. In this practice, the emblem pictura is extended or 'troped' by one of two distinct means: either a literal physical shaping, as in a 'pattern poem,' or a figurative shaping that elaborates on its central motif through an element of rhetorical design. The crucial shift here occurs in the emergence of the second mode, in which language no longer serves to explain the picture; language becomes the picture. This transition is most accessible in the work of Harvey and Quarles, both of whom preserve emblem picturae in their [279] devotional lyric. Thus, while Herbert's work fully realizes this transition, replacing the pictorial entirely, a type of middle ground can be observed in the poetic 'emblemes' of Harvey and Quarles, both of whom combine the pictorial image with rhetorically patterned text." (278-9)

Harvey, The School of the heart (1647), English translation of Benedictus van Haeften, Schola Cordis (1629); replaces Haeften's long prose exegesis with poem "develping the theme of the pictura that precedes it, incorporating this text into the the emblem structure as a whole" (279) -- Haeften reads more like a text giving instruction, Harvey invites the reader to actively unravel meaning from the dynamic between text and image

in Harvey, text becomes a kind of pattern poem reflecting the image; the act of reading reproduces the procedures implied in the emblem/poem -- e.g. emblem on ascending ladder of heaven is a triangle, reading leads the reader through steps; press poem enacts the pressing of each stanza; "reading as a meditative vehicle for devotioanl consciousness" (287)

"Like Harvey's, Quarles's connection of verbal and visual extends beyond this pictorial type of interrelation. Quarles, too, develops the connection between pictura and text into poetic mimesis in emblems such as 2.10" (289)

e.g. 2.10, echoes in poetry draw attention to echoes of emptiness in the world; "Quarles depicts emptiness by suggesting, in the enacted experience of the reader hearing the echoing rhyme, the figurative depth of the hollowness he is attempting to literalize in the echoing of the globe. The two 'visual' experiences merge, conflating the pictorial identification of hollowness with the mimetic depiction of hollowness in the rhetorical experience of the echo." (289)

"a relation framed between the concretely pictorial and the abstractly mimetic interrogates as it fosters the experience of meditative contemplation in a poetic appeal to visual cognition that recasts the relation of reader to divine Author. The devout individual arrives at spiritual communion through contemplation not only of an iconic pictorial representation, but also through an active [291] experience of rhetorical apprehension." (290-1) -- this distinction "most poignantly articulated" in Herbert
"In poetry that draws on the reader's ability to recognize and thus experience the significance of paterns enacted in lyric design, the process of inferring pattern becomes localized in that individual's participation in the making of meaning in the poem. When there is no pictura, just poetic figuration, the poem itself becomes the pictura, taking on, in mimesis, the intersecting roles of the visual dn the verbal in the devotional emblem, asking the reader to synthesize and reconcile multiple elements within the poem's form and content." (291)

reader added outline of altar to "The Alter" in 1656 copy of Herbert at Case Western

"Church-monuments'" -- crumbling of body to dust enacted in enjambments, crumbling of poem

"there is nothing frozen about Herbert's poetic ideal. To read his poems is to engage in a transfigurative act, one that animates the reader's imagination by animating the text, extending the visual faculty of poetic contemplation well beyond the pictorial." (295)

in visual poetry, then, distinction between "the pictorial poetics of ekphrasis and the mimetic poetics of the lyric emblem" (296)

"'Silent Parables': MAking Pictures Speak in Quarles's Emblemes," by Sarah Howe (299-317)

"how voice is produced" in Quarles's silent parables

use of "speech band" or "speech balloon" in several emblems

kirkyard of Holy Rude, Stirling, the gravestone of a local stonemason, John Service, erected in 1637, includes some of Quarles' emblems

Satan's prosopopoeia in 1.1