Andrea Alciato

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Andrea Alciato

Andrea Alciato (also Andrea Alciati , lat.Andreas Alciatus ; born May 8, 1492 in Alzate Brianza near Lake Como ; † January 12, 1550 in Pavia ) was an Italian lawyer and humanist .


Alciato studied law and the classical languages at the universities of Milan, Pavia and Bologna . On March 18, 1516 he received the title of Doctor of Both Rights in Ferrara , although he had not studied there. He then worked as a lawyer in Milan . From 1518 he was professor of law in Avignon . He gave up this position in 1522 due to fee disputes. Between 1522 and 1527 he lived again as a lawyer in Milan when the city was successively occupied by French and Spanish troops and ravaged by the plague. Alciato was then engaged in historical and humanistic studies. So he translated Greek authors like Aristophanes and he started with his epigrams , which he later used in his famous emblem book . In 1527 he returned to Avignon as a professor, accepting a cut in salary. In 1529, at the invitation of Francis I , he took over a professorship in Bourges , where he taught until 1533. Jean Calvin was one of his students . In 1530 his works De verborum significatione and Commentarii ad rescripta principum were printed in Lyon. In 1533 he returned to Italy and worked as a professor in Pavia (1533–37, 1541–43, 1546–50), Bologna (1537–41) and in Ferrara (1543–46) at the court of Duke Ercole d'Este . Andrea Alciato died in Pavia in 1550.

Emblematum liber

Emblem Potentissimus affectus amor , Augsburg 1531.

Alciato's best-known work is the Emblematum liber , the first edition of which was produced in 1531 by Heinrich Steyner in Augsburg . Already years before Alciato had translated a collection of Greek epigrams ( Anthologia epigrammatum Graecorum ) into Latin and had it printed in Basel in 1529. Each epigram was given a short heading, the doctrinal essence of the poetic text. A well-known scholar, the German humanist Konrad Peutinger (1465–1547) initiated the Augsburg edition, for which Alciato's texts were used. After drawings by the Augsburg artist Jörg Breu the Elder. Ä. the woodcuts for the book were made, probably made by Hans Schäufelin (his monogram can be found in a second Augsburg edition from 1531). The new form of the emblem , soon to be successful throughout Europe, was found, consisting of three parts: heading, image and poetic text ( lemma, icon and epigram ). Andrea Alciato was apparently not directly involved in the creation of the first edition. In the Paris version of 1534 authorized by him, he was very critical of the earlier edition, which had various technical and editorial errors.

The great success of the book led Alciato to a new, carefully edited edition with now 113 - instead of 104 - emblems, which was published under his name in 1534 by Christian Wechel in Paris; the third edition of 1542 contained two more epigrams. The 1546 version published by Aldus Manutius (the younger) in Venice was supplemented by 84 further emblems. The following edition was published in France by Guillaume Rouillé. This was the basis for further reprints and for editions in Latin, Italian, Spanish, French and English. The definitive edition is the one published in Lyon in 1550, the year Alciatos died. This contains all of Alciato's own emblems, all of which are illustrated.

Alciato's emblem book was a rich iconographic source for artists and clients from the Renaissance to the Baroque .


Web links

Commons : Andrea Alciato  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Alciato at Glasgow: Alciato, Andrea: Emblematum liber (1531) University of Glasgow, Project Alciato at Glasgow