Animal Testimony in Renaissance Art: Angelic and Other Supernatural Visitations
During the Renaissance, animals provided more than a source of food, clothing, medicine, labor, and companionship. They also “reflected human values, virtues, and conduct in heralds, symbols, [and] emblems.”1 The Renaissance artistic use of animals to represent specific virtues and vices—particularly as disseminated by Martianus Capella, Alanus ab Insulis and Cesare Ripa—derived from a long tradition of assumptions and associations that had been forged during classical antiquity (in Aesop’s beast fables, for example) and then allegorically embellished during the Middle Ages (in the Bestiaries, among other works). Reflecting this heritage, for instance, Renaissance art commonly relied on the horse to stand for unconscious desires, the cat for liberty (free will), the lamb for gentleness or patience, the dog for faithfulness or memory, and the songbird for spiritual detachment from the material world.
KeywordsEurope Galle Bark Ghost Pier
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- 1.Claudia Lazzaro, “Animals as Cultural Signs: A Medici Menagerier in the Grotto at Castello,” in Claire Farago, ed. Reframing the Renaissance: Visual Culture in Europe and Latin America, 1450–1650 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995), 197.Google Scholar
- 2.Cesare Ripa, in Edward A. Maser, ed., Baroque and Rococo Pictorial Imagery [Iconologia] (New York: Dover Publications, 1971), 30,143.Google Scholar
- 3.Sir Thomas Browne, in Sir Geoffrey Keynes, ed., Selected Writings (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968), 40.Google Scholar
- 12.F. L. Cross and E. A. Livingstone, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford University Press, 1998), 62.Google Scholar
- 14.Increase Mather, Angelographia (Boston: B. Green & J. Allen, 1696), 6.Google Scholar
- 16.Francis Ames-Lewis, The Intellectual Life of the Early Renaissance Artist (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000).Google Scholar
- 25.Howard Hubbard, Caravaggio (New York: Harper and Row, 1983), 123.Google Scholar
- 26.Gilbert. E. Creighton, Caravaggio and His Two Cardinals (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1995), 150.Google Scholar
- 27.Walter Friedloender, Caravaggio Studies (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1955), 24.Google Scholar
- 40.Allan D. Fitzgerald, ed., Augustine Through the Ages: An Encyclopedia (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1999), 438.Google Scholar
- 41.Joseph C. Schnaukelt and Frederick van Fleteren, Augustine in Iconography: History and Legend (New York: Peter Lang, 1999), 508.Google Scholar