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Andrea Alciato (André Alciat)

Emblamata / Emblèmes

Gordon 1548 .A54 no. 1 and no. 2 - Emblemata / Andreae Alciati Iurusconsulti clarissimi, Emblemes d'Alciat, / de nouueau tra[n]slatez en fra[n]çois

Gordon 1549 .A54 - Les emblemes de m. Andre Alciat, / traduits en ryme Françoise par Iean le Feure.

Gordon 1551 .A53 - Emblemata d. A. Alciati, denuo ab ipso autore recognita, ac, quae desiderabantur, imaginibus locupletata.


Gordon 1548 .A54 no.1

An Italian lawyer, Andrea Alciato, is regarded as the father of emblem books. His Emblematum Liber was first published in Germany in 1531. His epigrammatic verses in Latin on moral themes first appeared without illustrations, with woodcuts added in subsequent editions, perhaps on the initiative of the Augsburg printer. The first authorized edition was published, with woodcuts, in Paris in 1534. More than one hundred editions in Latin and translations in the vernacular were published throughout Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Printers in Paris and Lyon published numerous successful variations on the genre, both in Latin and in French.



Alciato (and subsequent Emblem book writers) drew themes and figures from the classical tradition, in particular from the Greek Anthology, form Aesop’s Fables and from Erasmus's Adages.


Gordon 1548 .A54 no.1
Gordon 1549 .A54
Gordon 1549 .A54

The inspiration behind the emblem format as well as its appeal are also related to the humanist interest in Egyptian hieroglyphs and the concept of a pictorial form communication, directly linking symbol and concept, providing a concrete embodiment of ideas that escapes the corruption of language. The relationship in emblem books between motto, woodcut illustration and text continues to fascinate readers.



Special Collections at the University of Virginia includes six editions of Alciato’s emblems. The first to be digitized are:

Gordon 1549 .A54 (Click on the call number to view the digital facsimile of the book.)

Les emblemes de m. Andre Alciat, / traduits en ryme Françoise par Iean le Feure.

A Lyon : Par Iean de Tournes, 1549. 127 p. : ill. (woodcuts) ; 12 cm. (16mo).

This volume correponds to #F.025 in the BFEB*. The Gordon volume is the only known copy of this edition, according to Adams, Rawles and Saunders.

Gordon 1548 .A54 no.1 and no.2

Emblemata / Andreae Alciati Iurusconsulti clarissimi.

Lugduni : Apud Gulielmum Rouillium, Sub scuto Veneto, 1548. Colophon: Lugduni : Excudebat Mathias Bonhomme. 164, [4] p. : ill. (woodcuts) ; 19 cm. (8vo). Woodcuts by Pierre Eskrich; some ornamental borders are signed PV, probably for Pierre Vase (i.e. Eskrich).

This volume corresponds to #F.020 in the BFEB.

Bound with:

Emblemes d'Alciat, / de nouueau tra[n]slatez en fra[n]çois vers pour vers iouxte les latins ; ordonnez en lieux co[m]muns, auec briefues expositions & figures nouuelles.

A Lyon : Chez Guill. Rouille, 1549. Translated by Barthélemy Aneau. Colophon: Imprimez à Lyon par Macé Bonhomme. 267, [5] p. : ill. ; 19 cm. (8vo). Text within ornamental borders, some signed PV, probably for Pierre Vase (i.e. Pierre Eskrich). Woodcuts byPierre Eskrich.

This volume correponds to #F.026 in the BFEB.

Gordon 1551 .A53

Emblemata d. A. Alciati, denuo ab ipso autore recognita, ac, quae desiderabantur, imaginibus locupletata.

Lugd. [i.e. Lyon] : Apud Mathiam Bonhomme, 1551. 226, [5] p. : ill. ; 19 cm. (8vo). Woodcuts by Pierre Eskrich. Except for the privilege and table, each page is enclosed within an ornamental border; some borders are signed "PV" probably for Pierre Vase (i.e. Eskrich)

This volume corresponds to #F.031 in BFEB.


*BFEB = Alison Adams, Stephen Rawles and Alison Saunders. A Bibliography of French Emblem Books. Geneva: Droz, 1999.


Internet Resources

Alciato's Book of Emblems: The Memorial Web Edition in Latin and English-

http://www.mun.ca/alciato/

A thorough and very user-friendly web project devoted to Alciato’s Book of Emblems, The site includes translations into English from the original Latin emblems, as well as commentary and bibliographical information.

Glasgow University Emblem Website -- http://www.emblems.arts.gla.ac.uk/

A complete transcription of Jean Lefevre’s translation of Alciato’s emblems, Livret des emblemes (Paris: Chrétien Wechel, 1536). The link directly to the Lefevre translation (1536) is -- http://www.emblems.arts.gla.ac.uk/SM23B/. The bibliographical information and the transcription were prepared by Alison Adams of Glasgow University. The woodcuts have been reproduced to accompany the transcriptions, with links provided to the corresponding emblems in Aneau’s 1549 edition.

A complete transcription of Barthelemy Aneau’s translation of Alciato’s emblems (Lyons: Macé Bonhomme, 1549). The link directly to the Aneau translation (1549) is -- http://www.emblems.arts.gla.ac.uk/SM33/. The bibliographical information and the transcription were prepared by Alison Adams of Glasgow University. The woodcuts have been reproduced to accompany the transcriptions (see the editor’s note on the use of emblems from the Latin version and from the French translation), with links provided to the corresponding emblems in the Lefevre translation (1536).

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