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Abstract

Physical (print) copies of surviving Renaissance emblem books are distributed across rare book collections held by libraries in North America, Europe and elsewhere. The goal of Emblematica Online, and of the various library digitization projects on which it depends, is to bring a critical mass of these dispersed primary sources together in a virtual corpus so as to aid in the discovery of and use of emblems in ways to help illuminate Renaissance culture and thought. The ongoing challenge for Emblematica Online is to accomplish this in a manner that keeps pace with, facilitates, and expedites the new and evolving ways scholars seek and use digital information. This paper discusses the use of Linked Open Data (LOD) practices in Emblematica Online and describes some of the key functional, user-facing features of Emblematica Online, using the work done to integrate Newberry’s digitized Emblematica Politica into the portal as an illustrative case study. Among the lessons learned from this work is that libraries do not have a monopoly on pertinent information about persons (and potentially other entities) relevant to the study and analysis of of emblems and emblem books. Moreover libraries in isolation do not know about all the ways primary sources connect with each other and with other external information resources. Integrating LOD best practices into Emblematica Online presents opportunities for emblem scholars to engage beyond the research library, surfacing connectedness, context and knowledge that supplements traditional library resources and facilitates scholarship.

In: Emblems in the Free Imperial City

Abstract

Nürnberg’s Rathaus, like other early modern city halls, served as its administrative center. Yet it also embodied the civic identity of one of the wealthiest and most politically powerful towns in the Holy Roman Empire. It hosted imperial diets and other important gatherings in the Great Hall. My paper addresses the building’s architectural history from 1332 to 1622 and the exterior decorative campaigns of 1520–21/22 and 1616/17. The mural paintings and sculptures on the east, south, and west facades, collectively comprising the public face of the Rathaus, symbolically proclaimed Nürnberg’s civic aspirations and the wise rule of its council.

In: Emblems in the Free Imperial City

Abstract

Through his collaboration with Sebastian Brant (Ship of Fools, 1494) and Konrad Celtis (Philosophia, 1502), Albrecht Dürer came into contact with emblem-like word-image structures at an early stage. However, his illustrations for Willibald Pirckheimer’s translation of Horapollo’s Hieroglyphica for Emperor Maximilian I became even more important around 1514, because these constructs suddenly opened up the possibility of “speaking” with pictures. Dürer’s famous copperplate engraving Melencolia I of 1514 was based on this experience, as was Pirckheimer’s later painted program for the Nürnberg Town Hall. At its center was Maximilian’s great triumphal chariot, which for the first time worked with symbolic images and their explanations. Seen in the context of the large mural with the Calumny of Apelles and numerous panel paintings by the artist, the town hall was a veritable temple of Dürer’s fame throughout the sixteenth century. This fame was also consolidated literarily when Pirckheimer’s Opera politica appeared posthumously in 1610. It is precisely here that Michael Rötenbeck’s “Inscriptiones” from ca. 1620 evidently continues: with an imprint of Rem’s Emblemata at its center, Rötenbeck seems to have speculated on also seeing his own writings printed as opulently as those of the famous humanist Pirckheimer. This, however, was prevented by his early death.

In: Emblems in the Free Imperial City
Author:

Abstract

This study traces the journey of Michael Rötenbeck’s hybrid manuscript, “Inscriptiones picturæ et emblemata …” (ca. 1620) from Nürnberg to Chicago, describes and analyzes its contents, introduces the manuscript’s compiler Rötenbeck, and then returns the focus to Nürnberg and the manuscript’s own context within Rötenbeck’s “Collectana,” Volumes IV of which are now held in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum. In so doing, it also presents the emblematic ecosystem in contemporary Nürnberg and the author of the town hall emblems Georg Rem. Rötenbeck recorded the past by documenting the inscriptions from Nürnberg’s most important civic spaces. The creation and maintenance of communal memory clearly gave impetus to his entire “Collectana.” Rötenbeck understood that it was important that Nürnbergers be anchored in their noteworthy past achievements and aim for the aspirations embodied in the town hall allegories.

In: Emblems in the Free Imperial City

Abstract

This contribution is both a transcription of the Latin and an English translation of the biography of Georg Rem that appeared in Siegmund Jakob Apin’s Vitae et effigies procancellarium Academiae Altorfinae, which appeared in 1721. The biography provides a brief overview of Rem’s life, accomplishments, and major works from an eighteenth-century perspective. Though quite short, the biography will show how esteemed Rem and his emblematic work, including the emblems inserted into Rötenbeck’s book, remained nearly a century after his death. Mara R. Wade contextualizes the transcription and translation by Wells in her introduction.

In: Emblems in the Free Imperial City

Abstract

The profusion of printed astrological texts circulating in the first few decades of the sixteenth century established a common visual vocabulary of diagnostic signs for the early modern reader/viewer. How-to texts relating to judicial astrology directed their readers to decipher planetary marks left on the palm (chiromancy), in the profile (physiognomy), or on the forehead (metoscopy) via a set of images that could be used for diagnoses. The printed images that guided such activities attempted to distill knowledge practices recommended by their books by organizing methods of diagnoses, establishing visual comparisons, and serving as mnemonic devices for memory retention. Recycled and repeated across a variety of projects, these images came to constitute visual data that privileged the images’ sovereignty. The shift in the relationship between word and image embedded in these intermedial translations provides a backdrop against which emblem production can be thrown into relief.

In: Emblems in the Free Imperial City
Author:

Abstract

In 1612 the Holy Roman Emperor Matthias I entered Nürnberg. In his honor the same triumphal arch that had been used for the entries of Charles V (1541) and Maximilian II (1570) was re-erected and newly decorated for this specific occasion. On the arch’s top, below the obelisk, were four bird statues that can be identified as emblems borrowed from Alciato, Camerarius, and the Altdorf Academy. For the triumphal arch, however, they were made into free standing, three-dimensional statues.

This essay examines the journey of the four birds from Nürnberg, as shown through their various incarnations. From the academy prize medals at Altdorf to the ephemeral triumphal arch, to the paintings of the Nürnberg Town Hall, to Rem’s and Isselburg’s printed book Emblemata Politica, and finally to Michael Rötenbeck’s Newberry manuscript Wing MS 279, all four avian emblems appear only in textual form. With Rötenbeck, however, these emblematic birds were documented as part of Nürnberg’s visual legacy and public imagination, thereby acquiring a new position as city emblems.

In: Emblems in the Free Imperial City

Abstract

This introductory essay explores seventeenth-century Nürnberg through an emblematic lens. It argues that the city’s leaders and ordinary citizens—including Michael Rötenbeck, the compiler of the hybrid book at the center of this volume—actively used the didactic symbolism of emblems in everything from public art to household objects to make sense of their world and express Nürnberg’s values and identity as a Free Imperial City. Moreover, this essay suggests that the emblematic approach encoded in Rötenbeck’s book still functions today, and can be used to recover some sense of the physical context of the seventeenth-century city, much of which had been destroyed in the Second World War. In closing, the essay considers how the other contributions in this volume can, like Rötenbeck’s compilation, share a story about Nürnberg that only emblems can tell.

In: Emblems in the Free Imperial City

Abstract

Like the famous edition by Rem and Isselburg, the Nürnberg Rathaus emblems have also been the object of literary appreciation and continuation. In contrast the “Emblemata curialia auctiora” from 1629, written by the religious refugee Johann Conrad Rhumelius (1574–1630) from the Upper Palatinate, remains largely understudied. The medical doctor Rhumelius made a name for himself publishing paraphrases of the Bible, and other topics. After an eventful life, he arrived in the Imperial City, where he had fostered close contacts for decades. In his continuation of the Rathaus emblems he treated not only the original thirty-two painted emblems and those Isselburg had engraved by 1619, but also supplemented them with forty-five “emblemata nuda” (that is, nude emblems, or ones without picturæ) which create a meaningful connection between a suggestive lemma, an imagined pictorial motif (only hinted at in the subscriptio), and its literary interpretation. Through the investigation of their themes, it becomes clear that these emblems, which were presented to those in power as examples and rules of clever, cautious, and farsighted leadership, also refer to contemporary political events and developments and, in particular, were influenced by Rhumelius’s unfortunate biographical and political experiences.

In: Emblems in the Free Imperial City

Abstract

Political emblem books experienced their heyday primarily at the beginning of the seventeenth century, although this subgenre of emblem books was revisited repeatedly throughout the century. They explain what policy, state, and good governance means for different publics. Thus, political emblematic books in the early modern period represent an important means for disseminating knowledge about good governance. The paper focuses on the three first political emblem books: Bruck-Angermundt’s Emblemata Politica (published in 1618, drafted in 1612), Zincgref’s Emblematum ethico-politicorum centuria (1619, announced in 1617) and Rem’s Emblemata Politica (1617), which are analyzed in more detail, through one specific emblem found in each (the lion that spares the vanquished). The analysis focuses, on the one hand, on the relation between explicit references to concrete historical situations and the imparting of general norms and, on the other, on the emblem books’ form, structure, sources, addressees, and so on. The paper shows how the books also refer very specifically to the respective historical circumstances and that good governance was defined differently in certain political and historical contexts.

In: Emblems in the Free Imperial City