Glasgow University Emblem Website

Emblems are symbolic pictures with accompanying text, of a type which developed in the 16th century and enjoyed an enormous vogue for the next 200 years or more, when several thousand emblem books issued from printing presses throughout Europe. They exercised a large influence on literature and the visual arts. Glasgow University Library is home to the Stirling Maxwell Collection of Emblem Books, the largest such collection in the world.

This website holds three categories of emblems:

  • French emblems at Glasgow. All the French emblem books of the 16th century, along with their Latin versions when appropriate. While the seed of the emblem as a genre was sown in Germany in 1531, it flowered and developed in France during the 16th century, and it was from there that it spread throughout Europe. There are 27 browsable books (all but two from Glasgow University Library).
  • The study and digitisation of Italian emblems. Focuses on the role played by Italian authors, starting from Paolo Giovio and Andrea Alciato, in the seminal stages of the emblem and of the impresa, and on the specific conjunction that in the Italian context was realised between these forms and the prose forms of the dialogue and the tract. 7 books are available.
  • Alciato at Glasgow. 22 editions of the emblems of Andrea Alciato (1492-1550), the pater et princeps of the emblem genre. The editions date from 1531 to 1621, in the original Latin, and in French, German, Italian, and Spanish versions.

Most books are shown in both transcribed and facsimile versions. Extensive search functions are available. Pages can be downloaded in JPEG format.

Last update

Tuesday, 22 March 2016 - 2:34am
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