Wednesday, May 03, 2006

A book that says something about you

I was interested by this posting on the 'Earmarks in early modern culture' blog. Off at a bit of a tangent, but these images (Andrea del Sarto, 'Lady with the Petrarchino', Bronzino's portrait of Laura Battiferri, and Jean Clouet's man reading) all advertise the importance of a particular book, and use Petrarch to say something about the sitter. Both lady sitters clearly invite the reader to locate a particular poem. There must be many more portraits like this, where a culturally prestigious text is hoisted into view. Not quite the same thing, but the Rowland Lockey copy of Sir Thomas More and his Family at Nostell Priory I have seen close up, where his daughter Margaret Roper points at a text of Seneca's (then attributed) 'Octavia' - a chorus about shaping your sails to gentle winds. At a cursory search, there's no good web image around of that painting, so I might scan my own reproduction as a future post. The Van Dyck portrait of Sir John Suckling with his copy of the Shakespeare folio daringly flaunts such a modern allegiance. Ahead of his time, was Sir John!

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