Even though his name takes precedence on the first title page of the emblem-book Symbola divina & humana pontificum imperatorum regum…, first published in three volumes in Prague between 1601 and 1603, Jacobus (or Jakob) Typotius was just one of at least four men responsible for this work. Its designs had been collected by Ottavio Strada, antiquarian to the emperor Rudolf II, and were reproduced for the book by the print-maker Aegidius (or Gilles) Sadeler. Typotius, who was Rudolf’s court historiographer, wrote Latin commentaries upon the images, except in the third of the volumes, where this task was undertaken by one Anselm Boethius de Boodt, an alchemist, gemmologist and a physician to the emperor.
The Symbola is, more specifically, a book of imprese, an impresa being a badge-like mini-emblem combining a fairly small and simple image with a motto, oftenest in Latin. The English historian William Camden, writing in 1605, defined an impresa as ‘a device in picture with his Motte, or Word, born by noble or learned personages, to notifie some particular conceit of their owne.’ ‘There is required in an Impresa,’ continued Camden, ‘a correspondence of the picture, which is as the body, and the Motte, which as the soul giveth it life. That is, the body must be of fair representation, and the word […] wittie, short, and answerable thereunto neither too obscure nor too plaine.’ The Symbola begins with two sets of religious imprese, the first section concerned with the Santa Eucharista, the Holy Eucharist, and the second with the Santa Crucis: the Holy Cross. The latter of these sections begins with an elaborate and quite abstruse oval emblem, a detail of which is shown above, before continuing with a sequence of smaller, coinlike imprese. The first quartet of devices detailed below are also from this section of the book.
Next are sets of imprese representing various Popes, Emperors and Kings. The first pair of images below, for example, respectively emblematise the French kings Philip I and Louis VII, while the second pair are both concerned with Henry VIII of England. Oddly, these last are followed in the book by two imprese representing two of Henry’s queens: Anne Boleyn and Anne of Cleves; while neither Queen Mary or Queen Elizabeth are represented at all. James VI of Scotland, (soon to be James I of England), on the other hand, is included. Some rulers have several imprese applied to them: Philip II of Spain, for example; as likewise, unsurprisingly, Rudolf II himself does. The second volume of the Symbola is concerned with devices representing cardinals and notable princes, dukes, and so forth, while the third volume is almost entirely devoted to the Italian nobility: the doges of Venice, the Medici, the Gonzaga, etc. etc.
I could find little information about Typotius on-line. He was apparently born in the Flemish town of Diest. According to Eliška Fučikova, in her long essay ‘Prague Castle under Rudolf II,’ Typotius had studied in Italy, and had published several books on questions of government, law, and ethics, before arriving at Prague in 1598. Nicolette Mout, in her essay on ‘The Court of Rudolf II and Humanist Culture,’ mentions that Typotius had also written treatises advocating escalation of the on-going ‘Long War’ against the Turks. Typotius is known to have collaborated with the physician, politician and philosopher Jan Jesenius, and was an associate of Jiri Barthold of Breitenberg, known as Pontanus, who features as a minor side-character in the history of the Voynich manuscript. Typotius died in 1604: a particularly morbid engraving designed by Aegidius Sadeler commemorating that event was inserted into later editions of the Symbola at the end of its second volume: see the detail below.
Click on the images to see them enlarged and in full. They were scanned from a reprint edition of the Symbola published by ADEVA, Graz, in 1972. A few other images from the book can be found at this site.Posted by misteraitch at December 8, 2005 02:34 PM