Cesare Ripa c. Little is known about his life. He was born in Perugia and died in Rome. After the death of the cardinal, Ripa worked for his relatives. He was knighted after his highly successful Iconologia , which he wrote in his free time, was published. The Iconologia was a highly influential emblem book based on Egyptian, Greek and Roman emblematical representations, many personifications.
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My readers tend to ask me the difficult questions. What Is to Be Done? When the Book is due? Could I please elaborate in more details on when all these random scribblings will finally proceeded to the exploration of the Mirror of the Futures, as it was promised?
Speaking about the book, I should, perhaps, be more precise: probably, never. Similar to my other long-running project, aman-geld , the major goal of this one is also not the end result be it in form of book, or any other format , but a never-ending process. Of self-transformation, that is, which by definition consists of endless efforts to pull yourself out of the quagmire of own stupidity ignorance a hopelessly vain attempt, as it turns out. Ironically, I would be the main beneficiary of such explicit descriptions — but see the lines above, about the futility of self-transformative efforts.
This is is the cover of the second edition of Iconologia , how it is called in Italian, published in Venice in The author is presented as Cesare Ripa Perugino, because he was born in Perugia, but by now this second part of his surname is rarely mentioned. It is because of this success, the later editions also included the portrait of its author, who also became knighted for this publication, becoming Cavalier of Saints Maurice and Lazarus although some historians are doubtful that these are very accurate depiction of him.
We know quite a lot about the later years of Cesare Ripa, but little is know about his yearly life. Even the date of his birth is known very approximately, sometimes between and Again, we know something about this cardinal, but not much or at least, not much is available in the public domain, I am sure Vatican may have more detailed records of its members.
This is his portrait the best I could find and the coat of arms:. This was, of course, the time when the Roman Popes ruled the world, perhaps, not directly, but Omni Potens. Yet however powerful were these folks, their rulings also tended to be short. Popes during his life! Perhaps, it was one of his duties, too, but apparently he had a chance to do many other things, too.
He had to also have plenty of free time and generous support of the cardinal, to be able to first prepare his book, and then publish it. What, exactly, was this book? He also described how these concepts are usually depicted, and for some he also provided illustration. This is a fairly typical example of the article we can also see it as a template. Some of the articles also have illustrations — like in this case we see a typical image of Abundance, presented as a woman with an appropriate Cornucopia in one hand and an assortment of agricultural products in another.
But even if not being totally original, the book by Ripa was still amazing for the time, both in terms of the amount of the materials gathered in one place, and also due to the large number of illustrations.
The second, revised, improved and extended edition was published in , a year after the death of the cardinal Salviati the first book was dedicated to him. The book was also translated to many European languages, and soon became widely available in all corners of Europe, from England to Russia apparently, Russian Peter the Great saw the book during his stay in the Netherlands, and it was one of the first books he ordered to translate to Russian after his return to Moscow :.
Take, for example, the Clio by Vermeer; painted in , it follows literally the description of how the muse of history, Clio, is supposed to be portrayed. To cut this story short, I eventually bumped into an old edition of this book, kindly digitized by Google and available online. This English edition you can look at the. As a result, it looks much lighter and easier to read, compared to a very dense layout of the original volume.
This is just an example of the page from the English version:. The front page mention the name of the illustrator, some I. It was an interesting hunt for the mirrors, and now I can share my trophies. The lady is to display Apprehension, in other words, Self Understanding; she holds a mirror a flat one, by the way in one, and a chameleon! Here is my mistake — I thought first that she also holds a round convex mirror, but it was wrong.
This was not a mistake, I gathered that the object that man holds in his hand is not mirror, but since the picture was to illustrate the Beauty , I decided to learn what is it. In one hand she holds a Lilly, and a Ball and Compasses in another; the explanation is not trivial, and related to the Measure and Proportion that the Beauty is defined by… but in any case, the mirrors are not used here in any way.
Again, I understood that this is not a mirror, but the Sun in her hand, but decided to take it too. As I wrote in this blog, many times, in fact, the mirrors had been seen and used in the past as the replicas of the Sun, and exactly because they could reflect its light. And the light was able to clear, and clarify things around, physically and mentally. The young gentleman is intended to symbolize Contento , or Content — in other words, Self Satisfaction, or Self Sufficiency.
I like the design of his devices, the Sun with a Handle we somewhat similar design solution in the engravings of Hans Sebald Beham. The English edition did help me to catch this bird mirror, mostly because it gain new design there, too.
It is a rare case when the new illustrator changed not only the shape of the mirror, but also its type, it became a convex one.
This not so much a mistake, but a wrong expectation; I would expect to see a mirror in the hands of Imitation, but she holds a Mask. Yet in the English version the monkey may well look at a mirror. The lady of Perfect Work also got her mirror a Miroir in the English version, in a French way , and here how it is explained:. The mirror is here the platform for the imaginary, the ideal, and thus perfect. The figure of Prudence with a mirror is one of the most common visual memes in art history, and it would be expected that Ripe make his version with a mirror, too.
Prudence is a complex concept, and its meaning very much depends on a particular cultural setting — it may be interpreted as wisdom, but could also be seen a mere common sense, or as a careful attitude to thinking and to doing things. Two-faced head is also a typical symbol of Prudence, as is the Arrow with the Snake here called Fish. All these symbols would be very interesting to explore too, but I am here after the mirrors. I would like to spend a bit more time at some point later to research the depiction of the Prudence and her Mirrors; so far I met this symbolism in the early work by Bellini and the in the alleged Prudence of Hans Baldung , but I have many more examples to reflect upon.
This is very Buddhist understanding of the mirrors; there they are also used to elevate over the sensorial, natural impact on us of all the things around, and achieve a more rational and clean comprehension, the essence. The issue is that there are a few articles in the book by Cesare Ripa that had two and in one case even three! Here is the second one for Science, where we see these Wings:. This confirms, one more time, a deep and intimate sic!
The Lust that is transformed into Luxury in the English volume does not have any mirror but does have a crocodile. Vanity was, perhaps, the biggest surprise for me; her depiction as a woman with a mirror is so typical that I only expected to see it here, too. There are many more interesting illustrations, some of them depicting more obvious and familiar concepts, yet others illustrating very bizarre and unusual ideas for us, at least.
See, for instance, Philosophy and Eternity. There are people who are doing it professionally, so leave it to them. The second insight is that despite all this diversity, the general image of a mirror, so to speak, is very positive.
Of course, there are more more interesting observations and discoveries that could be made by tracking the evolution of these concepts over time, and the book with all its later editions is an excellent platform for such an exploration. As I wrote already, the book became incredibly popular, and was published in ever more lavish edition. One of them, made around mid century, contained five 5! I found a few but not all illustrations with mirrors from this edition; notice, how close they are to the original versions, the only difference is their realistic background, and more refined figures in general:.
Hertel significantly truncated the text, now looking like a short digest:. However short, it still introduces not one, but two! With time, some colorful editions appeared too, inevitably. Some of them had just colorized versions of the original illustrations:. Yet others also produced entirely original versions, that more or less closely followed the initial designs:. I assume they could also start introducing new mirrors, as shown by this cover of one of the later editions:.
I hope that I will be able to peruse at least at some of these editions, and will be happy to write an update to the posting. PS: You can also see the slideshow of this posting here. You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Google account.
You are commenting using your Twitter account. You are commenting using your Facebook account. Notify me of new comments via email. Notify me of new posts via email. September 16, May 31, artmirrorsart. This is is the cover of the second edition of Iconologia , how it is called in Italian, published in Venice in The author is presented as Cesare Ripa Perugino, because he was born in Perugia, but by now this second part of his surname is rarely mentioned.
Hertel significantly truncated the text, now looking like a short digest: However short, it still introduces not one, but two! I assume they could also start introducing new mirrors, as shown by this cover of one of the later editions: By the way, this lady is indeed the Iconology herself: I hope that I will be able to peruse at least at some of these editions, and will be happy to write an update to the posting.
Like this: Like Loading One comment That was really a wonderful read. Thank you so much for writing that. Leave a Reply Cancel reply Enter your comment here Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:.
Iconologia, or, Moral emblems
CÆSARE RIPA: Reflective Iconology
Cesare Ripa, Iconology’s father and ancestor of the “form and info” (to be discovered online)