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Francesco Salviati

Francesco Salviati (Florence 1510–1563 Rome)
Emblematic Design
Pen and brown ink, brown wash
Illegible inscription in the banderole, in pen and brown ink, by the artist
7 1/2 x 7 3/8 inches (191 x 187 mm)
Gift of Janos Scholz, 1979; 1979.58
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This drawing is a design by Salviati for a device consisting of a moth approaching a flame emanating from a fantastic animal. The lamp consists of a double-headed horse and a base in the shape of a human foot. Though lacking a decipherable motto, the impresa (emblem) seems to convey a call to prudence: the moth is attracted by the light of the lamp but must be careful so as not to be burned.

With the rediscovery of classical epigrams, the use of emblems became increasingly popular in sixteenth-century art. They usually consisted of a pictorial image imbued with symbolic meaning, a brief motto, and a longer, explanatory text.

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The programs of The Morgan Library & Museum are made possible with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Background images: Photography by Todd Eberle unless otherwise noted. © 2006 Todd Eberle.