The reading of triumphal entries' emblems: Emblems as footnotes

Tamar Cholcman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Triumphal entries of the 16th and 17th centuries were composed of triumphal processions incorporating grand ephemeral monuments. At the bottom of these at eye level it was common to find emblems. While the form and nature of the triumphal procession, by moving from one monument to the next along the assigned route, produced a progressive viewing experience, the emblems, in stark contrast, compelled the viewer to take a pause in order to decode their meaning, a process that involved careful analysis and reflection. The use of emblems seems thus to represent a distinct interest and disposition, which appears to contradict the dynamic nature of the triumphal procession. This article explores the use of emblems by considering them as visual footnotes, hallmarks of scholars and literati. Consistent with early modern textual and literary practice, the analysis of the emblems in relation to the pageant as a whole, and especially of the ephemeral artistic monuments, allows the identification of the humanistic universal discourse to emerge from the local and civic ad-hoc arguments. In addition, similarly to modern academic footnotes, they were addressed and aimed to benefit the reading procedure by exposing the sources, justifications and enhancement of what was established by the main imagery, albeit directed at a selected few - the literati.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)350-361
Number of pages12
JournalWord and Image
Issue number3
StatePublished - 3 Jul 2015


  • art of festivals
  • ekphrasis
  • emblems
  • footnote
  • joyeuse entrée
  • triumphal entries


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