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Giorgio Vasari's Astraea: A Symbol of Justice

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In the personification of Astraea, a painting of Justice dated 1543, in the Neapolitan Museum of Capodimonte, Giorgio Vasari incorporates the endeavors of inventing a design, describing the conceit of the invention, and combining both in another artistic form (a painting), thus creating an emblem (a pictorial image with a motto and an explanatory text). As with Horapollo in his Hieroglyphics and Piero Valeriano in his Hieroglyphica, both of whom established the vogue of the emblem-book and were two of the driving forces behind the universal passion of the time for symbolic representations, Vasari composes a visual dictionary or a visual museum demonstrating the assimilation of the emblematic tradition in Italian paintings of the sixteenth century. His familiarity with the emblematic language and traditional imagery prompts him to create this new visual vocabulary in art--an encyclopedia of images and symbols.

Keywords: Astraea;; Emblem books;; Horapollo, fourth-fifth centuries;; Justice; Valeriano, Piero, 1477-1558;; Vasari, Giorgio, 1511-1574;

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2003


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