Fig. 1.  Cesare Ripa, Frontispiece, Iconologia, Rome: Gio. Gigliotti, 1593, Photo credit: Cheney.


Fig. 2. Cesare Ripa, Frontispiece, Iconologia, Rome: Lepido Facii, 1603. Photo credit: Cheney.


Fig. 3. Giuseppe Cesari, Cavalier D’Arpino, Self-Portrait, 1620-22, from Cavalier Ottavio Leoni, Portraits of some painters of the seventeenth century, designed and engraved in copper by, with the lives of the same taken from various authors with added annotations (Rome: Rossi, 1731).
Photo credit: Hunterian Museum & Art Gallery collections, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, Scotland, Catalogue number GLAHA 54203.


Fig. 4. Giuseppe Cesari, Cavalier D’Arpino, Allegory of Justice, 1624. Musei Civici di Arte e Storia, Pinacoteca Tosio Martinengo, Brescia (Photo credit: Pinacoteca Tosio Martinengo, Brescia).


Fig. 5. Giuseppe Cesari, Cavalier D’Arpino, Allegory of Liberality, 1624. Musei Civici di Arte e Storia, Pinacoteca Tosio Martinengo, Brescia (Photo credit: Pinacoteca Tosio Martinengo, Brescia).


Fig. 6. Giuseppe Cesari, Cavalier D’Arpino, Allegory of Magnanimity, 1624. Musei Civici di Arte e Storia, Pinacoteca Tosio Martinengo, Brescia (Photo credit: Pinacoteca Tosio Martinengo, Brescia).


Fig. 7. Ripa, Justice.


Fig. 8. Ripa, Avarice.


Fig. 9. Ripa, Toscana.


Fig. 10. Ripa, Iconography.


Fig. 11. Ripa, Furor.


Fig. 12. Ripa, Terrore.


Fig. 13. Arpino, Abundance Vatican.


Fig. 14. Cavalier d’Arpino, Abundance. Drawing. Florence, Uffizi. Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe.


Fig. 15. Ripa, Abundance.


Fig. 16. Arpino, Warrior.


Fig. 17. Ripa, Rumore.


Fig. 18. Arpino, Minerva.


Fig. 19. Ripa, Economy.


Fig. 20. Ripa, Injustice.


Fig. 21. Ripa, Negligence.


Fig. 22. Ripa, Liberality.


Fig. 23. Arpino, Liberality Vatican.


Fig. 24. Ripa, Felicity.


Fig. 25. Ripa, Fraude.


Fig. 26. Ripa, Libidine.


Fig. 27. Ripa, Benig.


Fig. 28. Statue of Marcus Aurelius. Bronze. Rome, Piazza del Campidoglio.


Fig. 29. Ripa, Virtù.


Fig. 30. Column Marcus Aurelius.


Fig. 31. Campidoglio.


Fig. 32. Cheney’s Reconstruction.

Cavalier d’Arpino and Cesare Ripa’s Iconologia: ut pictura poesia

Liana De Girolami Cheney
Investigadora, Historia de Arte, SIELAE, Universidad de Coruña, Spain
President of the Association for Textual Scholarship in Art History (ATSAH)

Cesare (Giovanni Campani) Ripa’s Iconologia (Overo, Descrittione Di Diverse Imagini caute dell’antichita, & di propia invenzione, Figs. 1 and 2) is a comprehensive dictionary of personifications, imagini or figurazioni (images or figurations)[1]. Ripa explains his purpose in composing the images:

Le Imagini fatte per significare una diversa cosa da quella, che si vede con l’occhio non hanno altra più certa nè più universale regola, che l’imitazione delle memorie, che si trovano ne’ Libri, nelle Medaglie e ne’ Marmi intagliate per industria de’ Latini & Greci, ò di quei più antichi, che furono inventori di questo arteficio.

(The images are made to signify a different meaning from the one that is seen with the eyes, desiring nothing more than an universal rule, but being the imitation of memories, which are found in books, in medals, in reliefs made for the industry of Latins and Greeks, or done by ancient master, who were the inventors of this art.)

Ripa is motivated to write his opus magnum by the humanists of the academies of the Filomati and Intronati in Siena, the Incitati in Rome, and the Insensati in Perugia. In particular, he is inspired by Pietro Leone Casella (c.1540–c.1620), a fellow Perugian, an Etruscan scholar and a poet, and president of the Insensati in Perugia[2]. The tome is a visual compendium of emblematic and mythological sources based in particular on Pierio Valeriano’s Hierogliphicae (Basil 1556) and Vincenzo Cartari’s Le Imagini degli Antichi Dei (Venice 1556), as well as on ancient numismatic collections, sculptures, and medals and Renaissance engravings[3]. The book rapidly becomes a working manual for Italian humanists and artists as well as other European artists of the Baroque period of seventeenth century.

The first unillustrated edition of Iconologia is published in Rome in 1593 under the auspices of gli’Heredi di Gio. Gigliotti and with the title Iconologia overo Descrittione dell’Imagini universali cavate dall’Antichità et da altri luoghi. Da Cesare Ripa Perugino. Opera non meno utile, che necessaria a Poeti, Pittori, & Scultori per rappresentare le virtù, vitij, affetti, & passioni humane[4]. The first illustrated edition is published a decade later in 1603, also in Rome but under the sponsorship of Lepido Facij and with the title Iconologia overo descrittione di diverse imagini cavate dall’antichità et di propria inventione, trovate et dichiarate da Cesare Ripa Perugino Cavaliere de Santi Mauritio et Lazaro, Di nuovo revista et dal medesimo ampliata di 400 et più Imagini et di figure d’intaglio adornata. Opera non meno utile che necessaria a poeti, pittori, scultori et altri, per rappresentare le virtù, vitii, affetti et passioni humane[5]. This edition contains 400 woodcut illustrations, many of which are based on the designs of Giuseppe Cesari, called Cavalier d’Arpino, a Roman Mannerist painter (Fig. 3)[6].

During the sixteenth century (Cinquecento) artists consulted mythological manuals as a source for their visual concetti (conceits). The most important of these sources are Francesco Colonna’s Hypnertomachia Poliphili (Venice 1499); Horapollo’s Hieroglyphica (Venice 1505); Andrea Alciato’s Emblemata (Basel 1529; and the editions in Lyon 1531, 1546 and 1549; and Venice 1548 and 1551); Lelio Gregorio Giraldi’s De Deis Gentium (Paris 1548); Natale Conti’s Mythologiae (Paris 1551/1558); Pierio Valeriano’s Hieroglyphica (Venice 1556); Paolo Giovio’s Dialogo dell’Imprese Militari et Amorose (Venice 1556); and Vincenzo Cartari’s Imagini delli Dei degl’Antichi (Venice 1556/1557)[7]. These manuals are compilations of medieval mythographies, hieroglyphs and numismatic sources. This type of manual serve as a commonplace book for Cinquecento humanists and artists –a kind of figurative encyclopedia or “dictionary-album” for easy consultation when time was lacking to read the primary texts in their entirety.  Since these manuals were well known to Cinquecento artists and literati, humanists borrowed or copied information directly from them without feeling any need to credit their sources.

Throughout the Renaissance, secular paintings were habitually painted according to the instructions of such humanists who assembled, assimilated and adapted subjects from classical mythology into complex and allusive schemes. However, in the later Cinquecento, with the new enthusiasm for depicting elaborate programs in Rome during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, and with the eagerness of Pope Urban VIII and his circle in encouraging the expansion of the fine arts as well as the belles lettres, the need for a visual compendium as well as a literary encyclopedia of moral allegories or personification seemed necessary[8]. The Iconologia of Cavalier d’Arpino and Cesare Ripa fulfills that need and also functions as a compilation of previous emblematic and mythological books and a guide for future emblematic books and artistic manuals.

In the Iconologia, Cavalier d’Arpino and Cesare Ripa are able to achieve a fusion between a visual imagery and an eloquent literary explanation for the corresponding image. In this manner, they continue the classical concept and traditional motto of ut pictura poesis (“as is painting, so is poetry”) of the ancient lyric poet and philosopher Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus, 65BCE-8 BCE). The phrase is frequently employed by artists and theoreticians of the Cinquecento, including Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), Ludovico Dolce (1508-1568), Gian Paolo Lomazzo (1538-1592), and Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574).

The idea of ut pictura poesis captures the complementary nature of poetry or writing with painting, equating the inspiration of the poet and writer with the imagination of the painter[9]. Both are concerned with the imitation of nature: the painter through the use of visual elements line, color, tone, texture and shape, the poet or writer through words.  Leonardo, commenting on the versatility of the painter, remarks about this parity.

And if a poet should say: ‘I will invent a fiction with a great purpose,’ the painter can do the same, as Apelles painted Calumny . . . If poetry deals with moral philosophy, painting deals with natural philosophy.  Poetry describes the action of the mind, painting considers what the mind may effect by the motions.  If poetry can terrify people by hideous fictions, painting can do as much by depicting the same things in action’[10].

In his Dialogue on Painting, Dolce expresses similar sentiments, characterizing the poet as a parlante dipintore, a speaking painter; the painter as a poeta mutolo, a mute poet[11]. Years later, Vasari writes in I Ragionamenti, “it is permissible for the brush to treat philosophical subjects as narrative, since poetry and painting, as sisters, use the same means” (“E lecito al pennello trattare le cose della filosofia favoleggiando; atteso che la poesia e la pittura usano come sorelle i medesimi termini”)[12].

The concept of ut pictura poesis adheres to the connection between image and word or image and text. In Rome during late sixteenth century and early seventeenth, this motto is associated with the conceit (concetto) of paragone still an intriguing topic of discussion, not only for contemporary humanists but also for artists and writers such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo (1475-1564), Giorgio Vasari, Guido Reni (1575-1642), Benedetto Varchi (1503-1565), Annibale Caro (1507-1566), Paolo Giovio (1483-1552), and Giovan Pietro Bellori (1613-1696)[13].

For Cinquecento artists and humanists, paragone is associated to an aesthetic theory relating to the merits of comparing the visual arts (architecture, painting and sculpture), in particular the superiority of painting over sculpture. In his writings, Leonardo, for example, emphasizes the superiority of painting because “the sculptor’s work entails greater physical effort and the painter’s greater mental effort.” He compares the way in which a painter may work in fine clothes while listening to music, whereas the sculptor sweats while working and his work is noisy.  In contrast sculptors, like Michelangelo praise the greatness of sculpture because of its permanence due to the materials employed and the visualization of the object in three-dimension instead of the two-dimension of painting.

Debates on the explanation of this paragone are crystalized in 1547 when Florentine Dante scholar Benedetto Varchi (1503-65) presents a lecture on this topic and invites artists to express their views on the superiority of painting or of sculpture. Among the Florentine artists responding to this debate are Agnolo Bronzino (1503-1572), Benvenuto Cellini (1500-1571), Michelangelo, Jacopo Pontormo (1494-1557) and Vasari.  In Varchi’s 1549 publication, Due Lezzioni (Two Lectures), he summarizes the debate by noting that all the arts are the same since their quest is the same–to create[14]. Vasari, however, clarifies the concept of similarity in his third Preface of the Vite of 1568, by considering disegno (drawing) to be the foundation of all the visual arts.

Continuing with this artistic quest, for Cavalier D’Arpino and Ripa, the paragone consists of using disegno as a foundation for the formation of the figurazioni. Then, the conception of ut pictura poesis is related to artistic creativity as well as to an aesthetic theory on imagery and its signification. The artist achieves artistic creativity through imitation (imitazione) and invention (invenzione)[15]. Imitation is the copying of art as a method of learning, whereas invention is independent of imitation and constitutes the means for conceiving artistic ideas. Imitation serves to guide and teach the artist in composing and creating an image as well as its signification (a figurazione). In this manner, Cavalier D’Arpino and Ripa join together in their artistic efforts to create a paragone in their ut pictura poesis figurazioni.

Extensive scholarly studies have discussed the life and career of Ripa, in particular, the study by Chiara Stefani[16], and Stefano Pierguidi has commented upon various editions of the tome, with some discussion of its designs[17]. However, with the exception of Erna Mandowsky’s intensive scholarly study in 1939 and 1940 on the signification of the images and the design for the images of Cesare Ripa and Cavalier d’Arpino, few attempts have been made to study the contribution of Cavalier d’Arpino in the Iconologia[18]. This presentation aims to remedy this, in part, and demonstrate the importance of the collaboration between artist and writer.

To that end, this presentation will analyze an example of ut pictura poesis by comparing the literary works of Cesare Ripa, the iconologist from Perugia who lived in Rome, with the visual imagery of the Roman Mannerist painter. The discussion will first analyze Ripa’s concetti (conceits) in his book Iconologia. The second aim of this study is to analyze the influence that painter and writer had on each other’s works. To elucidate this point, I discuss three allegorical paintings by Cavalier D’Arpino, now in the collection Tosio-Martianengo of the Brescia Pinacoteca: The Allegory of Justice, The Allegory of Liberality, and The Allegory of Magnanimity, all painted between 1595 and 1600 (Figs. 4, 5 and 6). These paintings will be interpreted in relation to Ripa’s figurations or emblems in the Iconologia, showing the assimilation of the concetti (constructed cultural and philosophical notions derived from ancient, medieval, and Renaissance iconography) as well affetti (human psychic expressions and motivations) between the artist and writer.

Mandowsky’s study on the meaning of Ripa’s Iconologia is the most careful and complete study of this emblematic book. In 1934, Mandowsky’s dissertation research was published in Hamburg. It was translated from German into Italian and published in four lengthy articles in La Bibliofia in 1939, and finally as a book in Florence in 1939 as well. Other studies on Ripa follow Mandowsky’s ideas and elaborate upon his comparative visual methodology. One such example is Gerlind Werner’s book, published almost forty years later as Ripa’s Iconologia[19]. In “Ripa’s Fate,” in The Renaissance Imagination, Mario Praz elaborates on the influence of Ripa’s imagery on the works of Fuseli, Flaxman, and Winckelmann[20], while in “Giovanni Guerra and the Illustrations to Ripa’s Iconologia,” Stefano Pierguidi attributes some drawings of Guerra to the depictions of Ripa’s figurazioni[21].

Mandowsky best describes Ripa’s early career. He is born in 1555 in Perugia and dies in 1622. Ripa writes the Iconologia under the protection of Cardinal Salviati. In the preface he explains how in his early life he lived in Rome under the auspices of the Florentine cardinal Antonio Maria Salviati and how he benefitted from that patronage. Under the Cardinal’s benign tutelage, Ripa is not only in constant contact with the humanists of the time but also has access to the Cardinal’s impressive library, which contains books on Aristotle[22], Hesiod, Plutarch, Xenophante, Horapllo, the Bible, and the Church Fathers.

In the preface of the first edition, Ripa reveals his intentions for writing the Iconologia. He wants to create a source of collected images or figurations (figurazioni) to be consulted by orators, poets, and visual artists who are interested in composing imprese or emblems or who wish to organize “feste e spettacoli” (“feasts, royal entries or manifestations). He also defines the derivation of the term iconology, which is from “two Greek words: icon meaning image and logia meaning speaking (parlamento). Thus, Iconologia signifies the reasoning of the images because they describe an infinite number of figures based on texts and famous discourses, which explain their meaning.” Ripa’s collection of images or figurazioni is a manual of allegorical interests concerning human passion, virtues and vices, as well as natural phenomena.

Ripa’s figurazioni or images emphasize the creation of two types of allegories or personifications: one is an allegory manifesting the dimensions of the individual; the second is an allegory explaining phenomena beyond the human sphere. The first type, which I shall refer to as human dimension, illustrates aspects of virtues (Justice, Fig. 7), vices (Avarice, Fig. 8), costumes (Tuscany, Fig. 9), modes (Iconography, Fig. 10), and affetti (Furor Poeticus or Terror, Figs. 11 and 12). By contrast, Ripa’s concetti for the second type of allegory, the allegory of natural phenomena, originates from natural causes such as planets (heaven or dawn), elements (beauty, celestial world), and seasons (scale, winter). For Ripa, the figurazioni must contain an enigmatic and mysterious character so that its specific meaning may not be readily understood. Here Ripa expresses the Mannerist taste for teasing the viewer. He also considers a didactic or moral message that the figurazioni must also contain, along with complex clavis interpretandi, the key to the interpretation of the imagery. Ripa’s moral overtone reflects the impact of the Counter-Reformation on the representation of images as well as his assimilation of the Platonic and Aristotelian aesthetic value on the symbolism of images, which must reflect concepts of arête, hubris, and virtu.

For Mandowsky, Ripa also composes his figurazioni with the classical imagery and literary content incorporated in medieval and renaissance texts, such as Boethius’s De consolatione philosophiae (written in 524, Italian manuscript 1385) and Boccaccio’s Genealogia (Genealogia deorum gentilium, written in 1360, published in Venice 1472) as well as contemporary emblematic texts such as Andrea Alciato’s Emblemata  (Basel 1529; and the editions in Lyon 1531, 1546 and 1549; and Venice 1548 and 1551) Natale Comes’s Mythologiae (Paris 1551/1558), Lelio Gregorio Giraldi’s Imagini (Paris 1548) Vincenzo Cartari’s Imagini delli Dei degl’ Antichi (Venice 1556/1557), Horapollo’s Hierogliphicae (Venice 1505), Pierio Valeriano’s Hieroglyphicae (Basel/Venice 1556) and Francesco Colonna’s Hypnertomachia Poliphili (Venice 1499).

For Ripa, the figurazioni are images that define concepts, with the concepts illustrated by the images. The image is visually created by assimilated sources derived from ancient philosophical texts, in particular, Aristotle’s Ethics, dealing with concepts on the human nature and on the human soul. In sum, in the Iconologia, Ripa illustrates an allegory or personification, describes that allegory or personification, analyzes the sources for the allegory or personification, and explains its moral meaning, thus a figurazione. According to Ripa, the image and word in the allegory are interlocked and mutually dependent. And so Ripa’s figurazioni are manifestations of ut pictura poesis.

In the preface of the second edition of the Iconologia, Ripa proudly informs the reader that the emblematic book has been expanded and contains more than 400 illustrated images. These illustrated images are woodcuts, some composed from the drawings of Giuseppe Cesari, Cavalier D’Arpino. He creates these drawings between 1594 and before 1603, when the book appears in print.

There is no certainty when these two artists met or how they knew each other. It is known that they both had the same benefactor, Cardinal Salviati. Cavalier D’Arpino lived in a house that he designed himself, in Via del Corso (then Via Latina). This residence was located near the house where Ripa resided with his patron—a fortuitous coincidence. Ripa and his contemporary writers and biographers—namely, Giovanni Baglione (1566-1643), Giulio Mancini (1558-1630), and the Flemish Karl van Mander (1548-1606)—all acknowledge in their texts the fame of Cavalier D’Arpino as a renowned master fresco decorator in Rome[23]. Sharing the same humanist and noble patron further increased the chance that the two men would meet and collaborate together on artistic commissions.

Although few drawings for the figurazioni are documented, it is possible to make a successful visual comparison of the two artists’ collaboration. In selecting works of art painted by Cavalier D’Arpino during the period of the two editions, 1593 and 1693, parallelism is found, which makes their artistic connections plausible. Compare, for example: Cavalier D’Arpino’s Allegory of Abundance in the Vatican Loggia and his drawing, at the Gabinetto dei Disegni e Stampe at the Uffizi, with Ripa’s figurazione of Abundance (Figs. 13 and 14 and 15); D’Arpino’s drawing of Two Warriors at the Kunsthause in Zurich ( Inv.9N. 54/I) with Ripa’s Noise (Rumore) (Figs. 16 and 17); and D’Arpino’s Minerva (?) at the Fogg Art Museum (Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, MA, Bequest of Charles A. Loeser, 1932.25) with Ripa’s figurazione of Economy (Economia, (Figs. 18 and 19 flip image for comparison).

A more stimulating intellectual and visual example is a picture trio located in the Tosio-Martinengo Collection in the Brescia Pinacoteca. D’Arpino painted them between 1595 and 1600 in oil on copper. Their subjects are The Allegory of Justice (Fig. 4).  The Allegory of Liberality (Fig. 5), and The Allegory of Magnanimity (Fig. 6). Although very little is known about the origin and purpose of the commission, it is well documented that the paintings entered the collection in 1832.

A brief visual analysis indicates that these paintings were companion pieces. Also, iconographically they are didactic, displaying moral values about human behavior. For this reason, then, perhaps they were painted or displayed in a governmental chamber or a justice council (hall). Stylistically, each of the paintings depicts three allegorical figures or personifications, representing a virtue and two vices with specific attributes for their identification. The composition is designed in a pyramidal form. In the apex there is a central female figure with similar physiognomy; in two of the paintings the female figure is enthroned. The major difference among them is the setting: some are interior versus exterior spaces, but these complementary spaces support their spatial connections.

Iconographically, their stylistic paragone support their complementary purposes. The central figure, for example, symbolizes a virtue or an allegory or a personification of good human behavior, while the other two figures, which frame Virtue, symbolize vice or are allegories or personifications of bad human behavior. When these vices are compared with each other, they manifest opposite attitudes of the same human dimension.

With the assistance of Ripa’s description of the figurazioni in the Iconologia, the identification of D’Arpino’s virtues and vices can be validated and the signification of their attributes and overall meaning of the image can be clarified. Also it assists in understanding the meaning of the panting as well as the artistic collaboration of both artists in the images of the Iconologia.

In analyzing The Allegory of Justice (Fig, 4) one views an interior scene. A central figure is an enthroned female, holding a pair of balanced scales, branches of palms, and gathered flowers. A crown adorns her hair, and a medallion with a painted eye decorates the neckline of her robe. Under a royal canopy, the enthroned figure sits erect and looks at the viewer kindly, with wide-opened eyes. The visual imagery of Cavalier D’Arpino’s figure parallels Ripa’s description of the figurazione of Justice (or Impartiality or Equality (compare Figs. 4 and 7). In the description of Justice, Ripa comments on Plato’s view of this virtue, “Justice sees everything.” For this reason, Ripa notes that the ancient priests called her See of all Things.

At the feet of Justice, the figure of Injustice or Partiality sits on the ground (compare Figs. 4 and 20, Ripa’s Injustice).  Her eyes are partially closed, as though incapacitated. At her feet a sheep is seen, as well as her attributes of the unbalanced scales, a resting sword, a closed book, and a sheep. The dormant and semi-reclining pose alluding to her passivity and indifference recalls Ripa’s figurazione of Negligence (compare Figs. 4 and 21). Injustice’s general disposition of carelessness and passivity strongly contrasts with the violent expressions of the arduous and ferocious standing male figure next to her. This figure represents Impetus or Terror (compare Figs. 4 with 12, Ripa’s Terror). His attributes are an avenging sword and a violent animal, such as a boar or wolf. When comparing these figures in the foreground in terms of their actions and attributes, in particular, the animal type and handling of the sword, it is obvious that an opposite image of human dimension is portrayed. Thus, The Allegory of Justice combines an example of good human dimension (Justice) contrasted with negative human dimensions (Injustice and Impetus) with a quality of judgment that rules a good government. In The Allegory of Justice, Cavalier d’Arpino quotes visually Ripa’s verbal descriptions for these figures and assimilates Ripa’s didactic and ethical spirit. In The Icons of Justice, Jane Aptekar discusses the moral implication of power and law in the widespread circulation of emblem literature in the sixteenth century, and the works of Cavalier d’Arpino and Ripa obviously attest to this emblematic and ethical tradition[24].

The Allegory of Justice is a pendant painting to The Allegory of Liberality (Fig. 5).  This painting portrays three figurazioni from Ripa’s Iconologia: Liberality, Avarice, and Opulence (compare Figs. 5 with 22, 8 and ?). The images reside in an open space, possibly a heavenly realm.  A stormy, windy sky with clouds and thunder lightning defines the background.  Cavalier d’Arpino’s Allegory of Liberality is composed from several of Ripa’s figurazioni, including Liberality with the attribute of a cornucopia pouring out wealth—gold and silver coins, flowers, and gems; an overflowing abundance of richness. Ripa states that Liberality shares and distributes her wealth to others. Her overall composition as an enthroned female figure crowned with an eagle is similar not only to Ripa’s figurazione of Liberality, but also to Ripa’s figurazione of Felicita Pubblica (compare Figs. 5 with 22 and 24)

The figurazione of Liberality has a special meaning for Ripa (Fig. 22). In its description he attributes with affection this noble virtue to his patron, Cardinal Salviati, and humbly thanks him for his generosity, tutelage, and patronage. Cavalier d’Arpino is aware of the significance of this figurazione for Ripa, since the artist designs a preparatory drawing of Liberalita, at the Uffizi (Fig. 14). The eagle is an attribute of Felicita Pubblica. Pliny describes this imperial animal favorably. Although it is a rapacious beast, it takes only what it needs to eat and is always concerned for the survival of other birds. According to Hesiod and Ovid, the eagle is a symbol of heavenly power and greatness and is the attribute of Jupiter[25]. By including the eagle as part of the allegorical image of Liberality, Cavalier d’Arpino’s adds all these regal allusions to his allegorical image.

Another quotation from Ripa is Regality in the act of pouring, with her attribute the eagle. The third borrowing from Ripa’s is Temperance as he states, “ La Temperanza con due vasi, che uno si versa nell’atro per la similitudine.” This image was popular during the Renaissance in paintings as well as in tarot cards such as Piero del Pollaioulo’s Temperance of 1470 at the Galleria degli Uffizi in Florence, and Antonio Cicognara’s Temperance of 1470s, from the Tarot card set for the Visconti-Sforza family, at the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York (M.630). The attribute of the pouring vessel compositionally balances the design and action of the cornucopia. Thus, in both cases, the act of pouring suggests guidance in charity and magnanimity for an individual to the attainment salvation and heavenly happiness.

In the foreground, the allegories of Avarice and Opulence stand in contrast. Visually quoting Ripa, Cavalier d’Arpino portrays an old, haggard woman with sagging breasts holding a frog, closed bags, and jewel box, symbols of greed, hoarding, and selfishness (compare Fig. 5 with 8) Avarice is depicted with claws as hands and feet, and between her legs is the tail of a scorpion. These elements are also part of the attributes of Fraud (Fraude) (compare Figs. 5 and 25) and symbolize the constant desire to snatch honor and possessions from others. Avarice stands partially in water. According to St. Jerome, in order to compensate for the process of aging, the eagle seeks water to wet its body and feel rejuvenated. Ugly and shabby Avarice gazes with despair at the beautiful young figure that stands before her (Opulence). Ripa describes the figurazione of Opulence but does not illustrate the image in his tome.

Cavalier d’Arpino’s Opulence is also composed of several figurazioni of Ripa, namely, Fraude and Libidine (compare Figs. 5 with 25 and 26). D’Arpino’s Opulence is depicted as a beautifully dressed young woman decorated with jewels and peacock plumes, absorbed with her attributes: Tarot cards, hunting dogs, a falcon, and a panther. One of the dogs gazes at his own reflection in the water, an allusion to the narcissistic character of his owner. The falcon and the hunting dogs allude to the alertness of youth. In the Tarot cards, the image denotes youth’s selfishness and carefree attitude. The panther, barely visible behind her, reveals Opulence’s weakness–the love for flattery. Because the panther is the most beautiful animal of the forest, desired and feared by the other animals, it becomes a symbol of libidinousness or intemperance as well as flattery, as the lack of abstinence and continence consumes money, fame, body, and soul. Opulence has in common with Avarice the element of fraud: both deceive, and are deceived by worldly goods. They represent vices and weakness of human dimension. Although expressed in opposite terms, they represent the vice of greed: both are selfish, self-absorbed; both fear generosity. They contrast with the central figure, Liberality, which represents the ultimate virtue of Goodness.

Due to its interior setting and composition as well as its iconological meaning, The Allegory of Justice alludes to good governance according to human justice, as opposed to divine justice. At this time, it is understood that divine justice ruled human justice; however, Cavalier d’Arpino complements the divine power of goodness with the pendant painting, The Allegory of Liberality. Here, Cavalier d’Arpino is dependent on the assimilation of Ripa’s methodology of conceiving allegorical images. Both artists use the word (text) and the image for the creation of their conceit and ut pictura poesis.

The last allegory or personification of he trio is the depiction of The Allegory of Magnanimity (Fig. 6). In this painting, Cavalier D’Arpino captures the image of goodness and benignity in the depiction of a beautiful female equestrian. The crowned female figure is attired with a bright red dress emblazoned with golden stars similar to Ripa’s Benignita or Goodness (compare Figs. 6 with 27).  An Arabian horse is decorated with the same colors as her of her garment. The composition recalls Marculs Aurelius’ equestrian statue of 210 in the Campid’Oglio in Rome (Figs. 28, 29 and 30). The scene takes place outdoors in an elegant plaza surrounded by classical buildings of senatorial palaces. In the painting, one of the temples is decorated with a balustrade with acroteria; behind this edifice an honorific column is in view, likely the Column of Marcus Aurelius completed in 193, in Piazza Colonna in Rome, with the Latin victory inscription, Columna Centenaria Divorum Marci et Faustinae[26]. Cavalier D’Arpino fascination with the Roman Campid’Oglio is associated with a important commission he receives from the Magistrati Capitolini in 1595 to paint al fresco the Sala dei Conservatori in Campid’Oglio and is given a  honorific citation as “pictori unico, raro et excellenti ac primario tento et reputato”[27].

The two figures framing Magnanimity are performing different tasks: the crowned regal female on the left is making an offering and burning incense at an altar; while the richly dressed figure of a Roman emperor or leader holds a tablet with the depiction of a temple. The classical edifice depicted in the tablet is similar to the temple in background of the painting and directly behind the male figure.

Unmasking the viewer, at the Roman soldier’s feet are several discarded golden statues are seen, symbols of idolatry and false worshiping. Cavalier D’Arpino depicts a Vestal Virgin making a religious sacrifice to the gods, a traditional Roman custom executed with burning incense for gratitude, purification and celestial glorification[28].

It is uncertain how these paintings were arranged in their original setting. Since their acquisition in the Tosio Marengo collection, they were considered a trio.  In analyzing the background of the paintings and their iconography a suggested arrangement maybe in viewing the trio for The Allegory of Magnanimity to be in the center, as indicated by equestrian directive action. The Allegory of Justice to her right and The Allegory of Liberality to her left, that is if in the governance of power or life, magnanimity rules justly, celestial blessing are achieved (compare Figs. 4, 5 and 6).

Cavalier D’Arpino dramatizes the backgrounds of these paintings to enhance the importance of the action and role of the central figure, which is a symbol of virtue, contrasting with two figures, framing the virtue, which are symbols of vices. In an open space, a sky with stormy clouds and a radiant light is seen in The Allegory of Liberality, contrasting with a calmer blue celestial sky and semi-enclosed space, a courtyard, in The Allegory of Magnanimity.  In The Allegory of Justice depicts an interior space and private chamber.  In the center of the room, a fancy red throne with a large canopy is decorated with a green-velvet cloth of honor, suggesting the special function of the room as a regal chamber or a royal audience room.

Uncertain about the purpose of the commission, it is difficulty to suggest a collective program for the paintings; however, the symbolism of the imagery implies a moral code for good human conduct. Ripa’s didactic purpose for the meaning of the figurazioni is masterfully portrayed by Cavalier D’Arpino To intrigue the viewer, then, Cavalier d’Arpino fuses in his allegorical representations several of Ripa’s figurazioni, thereby creating an elaborate image that contains imagination as well as inventiveness, and thereby also creating a Mannerist ut pictura poesis conceit.

Figura - Studi sull'Immagine nella Tradizione Classica, nº 2, 2014.


*A version of this essay was presented at The Understanding The Emblematic Operation in 16th-Century Italy and Beyond, chaired by Monica Calabritto and organized by Troy Tower, for the annual meeting of Renaissance Society of America of 2012.

[1] Giovanni Campani, known as Cesare Ripa, is born in Perugia in 1555 and dies in 1622 in Rome. During his early career, he affiliates with the literary academies of Filomati and Intronati in Siena, Insensati in Perugia, and San Luca in Roma, where he studies the classics (Greek and Latin) and antiquarianism. During his sojourn in Rome, Ripa assists as majordomo (head servant) or trinciante (food carver) for Cardinal Antonio Maria Salviati (1537–1602). This fortuitous connection benefits Ripa in two ways: first, his ability to consult the Cardinal’s well-furnished library; and second, his opportunity for contacts with art collectors, humanists, and courtiers who were friends of the Cardinal such as Zaratino Castellini, Fulvio Mariottelli, Pier Leone Casella, Marzio Milesi, and Porfirio Feliciani. See Cesare Orlandi, Memorie del Cavalier Cesare Ripa, in Cesare Ripa, Iconologia (Perugia: P.G. Costantini, 1764).

[2] Elizabeth McGrath, “Cesare Ripa,” in Encyclopedia of the History of Classical Archaeology, ed. Nancy Thomson de Grummond (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1996), vol. 2, pp. 960–61.

[3] Claudie Balavoine, “Dès Hieroglyphica de Pierio Valeriano à l’Iconologia de Cesare Ripa, ou le changement de statut du signe iconique,” in Repertori di parole e immagini. Esperienze cinquecentesche e moderni databases, ed. Paola Barocchi and Lina Bolzoni (Pisa: Scuola Normale Superiore, 1997), pp. 50–97; and Sonia Maffei, “Per una concordanza diacronica dell’Iconologia di Cesare Ripa,” in Repertori di parole e immagini, ed. Barocchi and Bolzoni, pp. 99–118.

[4] The first edition is published in Rome: Per gli Heredi di Gio. Gigliotti, 1593. A second edition appears in Milan in 1602, edited by Gierolamo Bordone & Pietro Martire Locarni. The first illustrated edition is published in Rome as Iconologia, overo Descrittione di diverse imagini cauate dall’antichità, & di propria inuentione (Rome: Appresso Lepido Facij., 1603). A following edition appears in Siena in 1613, containing the editorial notations of Giovanni Zaratino Castellini. Subsequent illustrated editions 1611, 1618, 1625, and 1630) are all published by Pietro Paolo Tozzi in Padua. He attributes most of the illustrations to Cavalier D’Arpino. Other editions are published in French, German, and Spanish. The first English translation 1709 is by Tempest Pierce (trans.) and Isaac Fuller (illustrator) with the title of Iconologia; or Moral emblems (London: B. Motte, 1709); and the second edition in 1777–79 is by George Richardson, trans, with the title of Iconology: or, A Collection of Emblematical Figures, 2 vols. (London: G. Scott, 1777–79).

[5] See Émile Mâle, L’art religieux après le concile de Trente (Paris: Colin, 1932), pp. 383–428 and p. 387, n. 1; Émile Mâle, La clef des Allégories peintes et sculptées, Revue des deux mondes 97 (1927), pp. 106–29; and Erna Mandowsky, “Ricerche intorno all’Iconologia di Cesare Ripa,” La Bibliofia, xli (1939), p. 8, n. 13, for a discussion indicating that most of the illustrations are executed by Cavalier D’Arpino, as well as for an analytical discussion of the meaning of Ripa’s figurazioni, pp. 7–27, 111–24, 204–35, and 279–327. See Stefano Pierguidi, “Giovanni Guerra and the Illustrations to Ripa’s Iconologia,” Journal of the Warburg and Courtald Institutes 61 (1998), pp. 158–79, who suggests that Giovanni Guerra (1544–1618) designed some of the illustrations for the second Roman edition of Ripa’s tome. He specifically mentions the figurazioni of Servitù, Ardir Magnanimo e Generoso, Persuntione, Avaritia, and Merito.

[6] See Herwarth Röttgen, Il Cavalier D’Arpino (Rome: De Luca, 1973), for a complete study on the drawings and paintings of this master; Maria Elisa Tittoni Monti, ed., Affreschi del Cavalier D’Arpino in Campidoglio (Rome: Multigrafica Editrice, 1980), for the restoration of these frescos; and Maria Focellino, Il Cavaliere D’Arpino: Napoli 1589-97 (Milan: Guerini, 1991), for a study of D’Arpino’s works in Naples.

[7] Jean Seznec, The Survival of the Pagan Gods (New York: Harper and Row Publishers, 1961), pp. 296 and 279-323, for a study of the manuals available in the Cinquecento and for a specific account of the sources that Cartari drew upon in his book, in particular, Pausanias, Apuleius, Macrobius, and Martianus Capella.  See also, Mario Praz, Studies in Seventeenth Century Imagery 3 vols. (London/Rome: Phaidon, 1941, 1947 and 1964), Introduction; Gennaro Savarese and Andrea Careffi, eds., La Letteratura delle Imagini nel Cinquecento (Rome: Bulzoni Editore, 1980); and Arthur Henkel and Albrecht Schone, Emblemata: Hanbuch zur Sinnibildkunst des XVI. und XVII. Jahrhunderts (Stuttgart: Metzler,  l967).

[8] E. H. Gombrich, Icones Symbolicae: The Visual Image in Neo-Platonic Thought, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 11 (1948), pp. 163–92.

[9] In associating Horace’s concept of a poet with Ripa’s artistic talent, I identify the poet to be a writer and poetry to be a written text.  In Ripa’s case, his writing of the Iconologia is an example of Horace’s poetic notions.

[10] Anthony Blunt, Artistic Theory in Italy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1968), p. 52.

[11] Dolce’s Dialogo della Pittura, trans. M. Roskill (New York: New York University Press, 1968), pp. 97 and 239, and Gian Paolo Lomazzo’s Trattato dell’arte della pittura, scultura et architettura (Milan 1584), summarizes Leonardo’s and Dolce’s conceptions of the relationships between poetry and painting.  See R. Lee, Ut Pictura Poesis: Humanist Theory of Painting (New York:  W.W. Norton and Company, Inc., 1967), p. 1, n. 2; G. B. Armenini, De’ veri precetti della pittura ( Ravenna 1587), p. 23, which comments on this fashion: “Per cio si chiama la pittura, Poetica che tace, et la Poetica, Pittura che parla, et questa l’anima dover esser, et quella il corpo, dissimile pero quin questo si tengono, perche, l’una imita con i colori, l’altra con le parole. Ma certamente che qui quanto all’ inventione predetta et quin quanto alla Verita sono d’una stessa proprietà et d’uno effetto medesimo.”

Torquato Tasso (1544-1595) refers as well to the poet as a pittore parlante (speaking painter) in Del Poema Eroico ( Venice 1587). And in a letter to Vasari, Annibale Caro refers to the artist as a poet and painter: “L’inventione mi rimetto a voi, ricordandomi d’un altra somiglianza, che la poesia ha con la pittura, et di piú, che voi siete cosi poeta come pittore, et che ne l’una et ne l’ altra con piu affettione et con piu studio s’ esprimono i concetti et le idee sue proprie che d’altrui.” See also, Karl Frey ed., Der literarische Nachlass Giorgio Vasaris (Munich: George Müller, 1923), I, p. 220. Letter 112 dated May 10, 1548, and  K. Borinski, Die Antike in Poetik und Kunsttheorie von Ausgang des klassichen Altertums bis auf Goethe und Wilhelm von Humboldt (Leipzig: K. F. Koehler, 1914–1924), I, pp. 30, 97, 175, 183, 238; II, pp. 106, 125–27, for the history of the dispute about ut pictura poesis.

[12] Giorgio Vasari,  Le Vite dei piú eccellenti Pittori, Scultori, et Architettori, ed. Gaetano Milanesi, 9 vols.  (Florence:  G. C. Sansoni, 1906-1970), VIII, p. 18. Hereafter cited as Vasari-Milanesi.

[13] See Giovan Pietro Bellori, Vite de’Pittori, Scultori et Architetti Moderni (Roma: Mascardi, 1672). He is an antiquarian as well as a biographer of the seventheen century. See also Rensselaer Lee, Ut Pictura Poesis: Humanist Theory of Painting (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, Inc., 1967).

[14] Leah Mendelsohn, Paragoni: Benedetto Varchi Due Lezzioni and Cinquecento Art Theory (Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1982).

[15] Vasari-Milanesi, II, pp. 95–96.  See Erwin Panofsky, Idea: A Concept in Art Theory (Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1968), pp. 60–63, and The Elder Pliny’s Chapters on the History of Art, trans. K. Jex–Blake and E. Sellers, New York:  Macmillan, 1968), Pliny 35: 84.

[16] Orlandi, Memorie del Cavalier Cesare Ripa; and Chiara Stefani, “Cesare Ripa: New Biographical Evidence,” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 53 (1990), pp. 307–10, appendices I–IV, pp. 310–12.

[17] Pierguidi, “Giovanni Guerra and the Illustrations to Ripa’s Iconologia,” pp. 158–79.

[18] Mandowsky, “Ricerche intorno all’Iconologia di Cesare Ripa,” subsequently published as a book in Florence in 1939; see also Gerlind Werner, Ripa’s Iconologia: Quellen, Methode, Ziele (Utrecht: H. Dekker & Gumbert, 1977); Emile Male, L’art religieux après le concile de Trente (Paris: Colin, 1932), pp. 383–428; and Mario Praz, Studies in Seventeenth-Century Imagery, 2 vols. (Rome: Edizioni di storia e letteratura, 1964–74).

[19] See Werner, Ripa’s Iconologia, pp. 64–69, for a discussion indicating that Cavalier D’Arpino composed some illustrations for Ripa’s tome.

[20] Praz, Studies in Seventeenth-Century Imagery, vol. 2, pp. 472–75, in particular, vol. 1, p. 201, n. 1.

[21] Pierguidi, “Giovanni Guerra and the Illustrations to Ripa’s Iconologia,” pp. 158–79.

[22] Ripa refers in his 1593 Introduction to how Aristotle addresses the discussion of the images in his Rhetoric’s third book (Aristotele nel terzo libro della sua Rettorica).

[23] See Giovanni Baglioni, Le Vite de’Pittori, Scultori et Architetti, ed Intagliatori dal Pontificato di Gregorio XII del 1572, fino a’ tempi de Papa Urbano VIII. Nel 1642 (Rome 1642); Giulio Mancini, Considerazioni sulla pittura (Rome 1620); and  Karl van Mander, Schilder-boeck (Harleem 1604).

[24] Jane Aptekar, Icons of Justice: Iconography and the Thematic Imagery in Book V of The Faerie Queen (New York: Columbia University 1969).

[25] Hesiod, Theogony, ed. and trans. Hugh. G. Evelyn-White (Cambridge, MA: Loeb Classical Library, 1914), II: 75-115, and  Ovid, Metamorphoses, ed. and trans. Marry M. Innes (London: Penguin Press, 1955), pp. 34-35;44-46, 60-62 , and 72-74.  See also,  O. Seemann, The Mythology of Greece and Rome With Special Refernce to Its Use in Art, ed. and trans. G. H. Bianchi (London: Marcus Ward and Co., 1877), pp. 22-30, and Mark P. O.Morford and Robert J. Lenardon, eds., Classical Mythology (London: Longman, 1971),  pp. 70-70.

[26] The relief sculptures on the column recounts the vicorious expeditions and battles of Marcus Aurelius in the Danubian or Marcomannic wars.

[27] See Archivio Storico Capitolino, Cred. I. Tomo 30, and Giovanni Baglione, “Vita di Cavalier D’Arpino,” in the Vite (Rome: E. Calzone, 1935), p. 371, for the citation, and Monti, ed., Affreschi del Cavalier D’Arpino in Campidoglio, for the iconography and resroeiarion of the frescos.

[28] See Lacus Curtius Cato, De Agricultura of 160 BCE, section 132, where he recommends for public and private sacrifices with libations or incense to be offered to the gods.

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