Unveiling Renaissance and Baroque Inspirations in Early Modern Slavonic Emblem Books
2023-2024 (April - May)
Vladimir Simic is a professor at the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Belgrade. He is the author and editor of several books, as well as numerous articles on early modern art and culture in Southeastern Europe. His research interests have evolved from the history of art objects to the history of ideas, with a particular emphasis on an interdisciplinary approach. He has curated four exhibitions on topics within the cultural and art history of the 17th and 18th centuries. Presently, Simic holds the position of editor-in-chief at the Matica Srpska Journal for Fine Arts and serves as the head of the Department of Fine Art at Matica Srpska. His ongoing research is centered around the history of painting in Southeastern Europe during the Age of Enlightenment, exploring the dynamic interplay between culture, intellect, and artistic expression.
In the realm of intellectual disciplines, emblematic played a significant role in early modern European art and culture. It evolved from the clever and poetic games cultivated in the Italian courts during the Renaissance to the religious culture of the Baroque period, where it served as a vital tool for education and propaganda. Emblematic endured through epochs, fading away only in the late 18th century. Until that juncture, it captivated the masses and became an integral part of popular culture. This trend extended beyond Western Europe, making its way to Eastern and Southeastern Europe. Initially, it manifested within books and later took form in visual arts – including religious and decorative painting, as well as applied arts. Among the early modern Slavonic printers, emblematic designs took on the shape of ex libris, but complete emblem books emerged by the onset of the 18th century. One such emblem book, titled "Symbola et Emblemata," was published in Saint Petersburg in 1705. Shortly thereafter, in 1712, the first edition of "Itika Jeropolitika" appeared in Kyiv. The latter achieved remarkable success, prompting new editions in different Slavonic languages by the century's end. Inspiration and models for these emblems could be traced to various Renaissance and Baroque sources. Although convention dictates that Italian and Dutch emblematic serve as the primary sources, this assumption, along with other hypotheses concerning the two aforementioned books, will be scrutinized in the proposed project.