Wednesday, July 17, 2013

"A Seventeenth-Century Emblem Book"

Last week, Dick Hoefnagel, a longtime friend of the Dartmouth College Library, passed away. In his memory, today we blog one of his favorite books from the collection: one he admired, wrote about, and connected with personally. The book is an exquisitely executed seventeenth-century emblem book with hand-colored engravings and text in manuscript.

According to Hoefnagel's research published in the Library Bulletin 11/1 (November 1970), the engravings were signed by Jean Dolivar, a Spanish artist born in 1641, and the nephew of Jean Lepaute, one of the great masters of the Louis XIV style. Illustrated here is Emblem I described by Dick thusly:
This emblem contrasts the perishable felicities of life on earth with the eternal bliss of heaven. The symbolism is conventional and includes the ancient belief that laurel, usually representing virtue, is never struck by lightning. The choice of the number twelve in the crown of stars may have a biblical derivation (the tiara of the traveling woman of St. John, Revelation 12:1-6; the twelve patriarchs of Israel) or refer to the ultimate origin of such symbolisms, namely the astrological system of the twelve constellations of the Zodiac.
It is a beautiful book and worth your time. Come in and ask for Codex Manuscript 002066.

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