Rare Books Blog

September 24, 2011

Two codifiers of Renaissance iconography, Cesare Ripa and Andrea Alciati, generated compendia of icons and emblems, replayed by didactic invocations in art and literature, in politics and theology, and in popular pastimes from tarot cards to the satirical press. Through these multiple forms, a host of Virtues and Vices became part of the common visual vocabulary in Europe.

Cesare Ripa’s Iconologia marks the beginning of a shift in the meaning attributed to the blindfold. First published, without any pictures, in Rome in 1593, it was printed with images in 1603 and regularly thereafter, appearing in more than forty editions in eight languages.

Ripa detailed various kinds of Justice, each with her own set of attributes. One was Divine Justice (“Giustitia Divina”) and the other six were variations on “Worldly” Justice. All were clear-sighted but one, and sight itself was specifically admired in the descriptions of various Justices. For example, Ripa’s “Justice According to Aulus Gellius” – from the Padua Ripa of 1625 – is said to have “piercing eyes” and to wear a necklace where “an eye is portrayed” because “Plato said that Justice sees all and that, from ancient times, priests were called seers of all things.” “Divine Justice” (from the 1698 Amsterdam edition), was similarly clear-sighted, with scale, sword, and a dove in a halo above her head to invoke the Holy Spirit.

The sole version Ripa described as blindfolded was called Justice (or sometimes Earthly Justice). As a 1611 edition explained:

This is the type of Justice that is exercised in the Tribunal of judges and secular executors. She is wearing white because judges should be without the stain of personal interest or of any other passion that might pervert Justice, and this is also why her eyes are bandaged – and thus she cannot see anything that might cause her to judge in a manner that is against reason.

Ripa, Cesare. Iconologie (Paris: Mathieu Guillemot, 1644). Lillian Goldman Law Library.

Ripa, Cesare. Iconologie (Amsterdam: Adrian Braakman, 1698). Lillian Goldman Law Library.

Ripa, Cesare. Della novissima iconologia (Padua: Tozzi, 1625). Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

“The Remarkable Run of a Political Icon: Justice as a Sign of the Law” is curated by Judith Resnik, Dennis Curtis, Allison Tait, and Mike Widener, and is on display Sept. 19-Dec. 16, 2011, in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

 

September 24, 2011

Alciati, Andrea. Opera omnia (4 vols.; Basel: Thomas Guarinus, 1582), vol. 4. Lillian Goldman Law Library.

Where might Ripa have gotten the blindfold? One possible source is Andrea Alciati, a professor of law. His friend Erasmus called Alciati a “shining light of Learning, not only the Law.” Alciati’s 1531 treatise, Emblemata, an anthology of moralizing epigrams to which his publisher added illustrations, was reproduced in some 150 editions. One of the “emblems” (a term he coined) is titled “The good Prince in his Council.” The central figure is wearing a bandage obscuring part or all of his eyes, and his colleagues lack hands. The accompanying epigram reads:

These men without hands who are seated are those by whom justice is administered. They should have well-balanced sense; nothing is received from them in response to a bribe. Their prince, deprived of his sight, cannot see anybody, and he judges by due sentence according to what is said in his ear.

Both Ripa and Alciati likely knew the “Egyptian” allegory “transmitted by Plutarch and Diodorus Sicilus in which the chief justice was shown eyeless in order to illustrate his impartiality, while his colleagues had no hands with which to take bribes.”

“The Remarkable Run of a Political Icon: Justice as a Sign of the Law” is curated by Judith Resnik, Dennis Curtis, Allison Tait, and Mike Widener, and is on display Sept. 19-Dec. 16, 2011, in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

September 24, 2011

A rare and intriguing portrayal of a two-faced Justice, titled “A Portrait of Worldly Justice,” comes from a popular sixteenth-century guide to civil procedure by the Flemish jurist Joost de Damhoudere. One face is sighted and the other has blindfolded eyes. The face of the sighted Justice looks toward her large sword, held upright in her right hand, while the face of the blindfolded Justice turns toward tipped scales in her left hand.

The sighted face has the well-to-do on its side, while the blindfolded face is turned toward the side with more needy-looking individuals, children included. Those on the sighted side of Justice personify largely negative qualities, such as the two labeled Argentum (Money) and Favor (Favor). Blindfolded Justice faces figures labeled Despectus (Contempt), Miseria (Misery), and Paupertas (Poverty). The legend below suggests the children (one of whom is disabled) are Innocentia (Innocence) and Veritas (Truth).

This imagery is accompanied by more than a dozen explanatory pages, beginning with a quote from Cicero: “Justice is the virtue, by which is granted to each what is his own.” Through this mélange of images and text, Damhoudere detailed his views on both divine and human justice. He explained that many turn to Justice, who is “repeatedly blind and deaf” to just causes.” Justice is “two-faced” – acting in a manner that appears even-handed but dissembling. Where she is “bound by a blindfold,” her eyes are shut to “clemency.” But the text has some ambiguity, for Damhoudere also commented that a “two-faced” Justice signified that she must “attend to each of the parties equally.”

Damhoudere, Joost de. Practique iudiciaire et causes civiles (Antwerp: Iean Bellere, 1572). Lillian Goldman Law Library.

Damhoudere, Joost de. Practycke in civile sacken (Rotterdam: Pieter van Waesberghe, 1660). Lillian Goldman Law Library.

“The Remarkable Run of a Political Icon: Justice as a Sign of the Law” is curated by Judith Resnik, Dennis Curtis, Allison Tait, and Mike Widener, and is on display Sept. 19-Dec. 16, 2011, in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

September 24, 2011

By the sixteenth century, the blindfold had come to be seen as a potentially positive constraint on earthly Justice, seen to be at risk of corruption or of misplaced passion. But Justices without blindfolds remained commonplace, as seen in the 1669 edition of the Republic of Genoa’s criminal statutes. The engraving is by Giuseppe Maria Testana (d. 1679), a printmaker and engraver whose works included allegorical images and portraits of popes, cardinals, and other public figures.

Genoa (Republic). Criminalium iurium serenissimae reipublicae Genuensis, libri duo (Genoa: Giovanni Battista Tiboldi, 1669). Lillian Goldman Law Library.

“The Remarkable Run of a Political Icon: Justice as a Sign of the Law” is curated by Judith Resnik, Dennis Curtis, Allison Tait, and Mike Widener, and is on display Sept. 19-Dec. 16, 2011, in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

September 24, 2011

The engraved title page of Bernard van Zutphen’s Practycke der nederlansche rechten van de daghelijcksche soo civile als criminele (Dutch Law and Practice in Civil and Criminal Matters) depicts a crowded and lively courtroom scene. At the center, the presiding jurist is seated behind a table and beneath a small statue of Justice, who holds scales and a sword; her thin blindfold is dimly visible. The densely populated courtroom, with seats filled by men, includes some spectators focusing on the court proceedings and others chatting – with dogs at their feet.

With minor variations, this same image can be found in several other volumes of that era, all illustrating how seventeenth-century town halls served as public gathering places, and court proceedings were ordinary events.

Zutphen, Bernhard van. Practycke der nederlansche rechten van de daghelijcksche soo civile als criminele questien (Leeuwarden: G. Sijbes, 1655). Lillian Goldman Law Library.

“The Remarkable Run of a Political Icon: Justice as a Sign of the Law” is curated by Judith Resnik, Dennis Curtis, Allison Tait, and Mike Widener, and is on display Sept. 19-Dec. 16, 2011, in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

September 24, 2011

A clear-sighted Justice is at the center of the frontispiece to a 1788 German edition of Cesare Beccaria’s On Crimes and Punishment, first published in 1764. Beccaria was an eighteenth-century Italian jurist, philosopher, and politician. His well-known treatise, condemning torture and the death penalty, remains a foundation for theories of punishment. Beccaria’s premises of reason, utility, and deterrence resulted in his rejection of executions.

Depicted is a Justice turning her eyes away, with scales, entangled with tools used in farming and industry, dangling by her side. She refuses the offering of a severed head by an executioner. Her posture enacts the position adopted today by those seeking to abolish the death penalty. The illustration was based on a sketch drawn by Beccaria himself.

Beccaria, Cesare. Von Verbrechen und Strafen (Breslau: Johann Friedrich Korn, 1788). Lillian Goldman Law Library.

“The Remarkable Run of a Political Icon: Justice as a Sign of the Law” is curated by Judith Resnik, Dennis Curtis, Allison Tait, and Mike Widener, and is on display Sept. 19-Dec. 16, 2011, in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

September 24, 2011

Dumont, Jean. Corps universel diplomatique du droit des gens (8 vols.; Amsterdam: P. Brunel [etc.], 1726-31), vol 1. Lillian Goldman Law Library.

Jean Dumont’s Corps universel diplomatique du droit des gens (The Universal Diplomacy of the Laws of Men) is a compilation of European treaties beginning in the time of Charlemagne in the tenth century. The engraved frontispiece, entitled “Traitez de Paix” (Peace Treaties), is by Bernard Picart (1673-1733), who was considered a “magnificent engraver.” In the background, the Virtues Justice and Peace (both clear-eyed half-naked women) embrace. They are seated on a pedestal and surrounded by other Virtues, all labeled and including Fortitude, Wisdom, Natural Law, and Truth.

The French text below the engraving explains that the two male figures at the center are kings “swearing an alliance” that is confirmed through a handshake above a chalice-shaped urn in which a fire burns. Each of the men bears a palm, symbolizing peace, and ministers and counselors surround each. At the bottom, War is enchaining Ambition, Discord, Fraud, and Impiety. At the top of the frame, the eye of Providence looks down from thundering clouds from which harpies emerge.

The picture of two persons clasping hands over a fire occurs often in diplomatic imagery of this era and signifies “bona fides” (good faith) or “pacta sunt servanda” (promises must be kept). The depiction’s iconic weight resulted in variations being used in seventeenth-century wedding poems, with husband and wife clasping hands to symbolize their union.

A simplified version of the Picart image made its way into the logo of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, established in 1907 at the Hague. A facsimile of the logo used by the Court until 2007 shows the artistic borrowing.

 

“The Remarkable Run of a Political Icon: Justice as a Sign of the Law” is curated by Judith Resnik, Dennis Curtis, Allison Tait, and Mike Widener, and is on display Sept. 19-Dec. 16, 2011, in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

 

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