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Road to SES Conference Coimbra (online sessions)

Antecipating the 12th International Conference of the Society for Emblem Studies, CIEC organizes the online series “Road to SES Conference Coimbra 2022”. 

The opening session will oficially launch the Conference, with a brief intervention by Ingrid Hoepel (Chair of the Society for Emblem Studies), José Carlos Seabra Pereira (Coordinator of the Interuniversitary Centre for Camonian Studies) and Rui Gama (Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities).

Here is the link to the Zoom meeting:

Topic: Road to SES Conference Coimbra - online sessions 

Join Zoom Meeting:  

Meeting ID: 846 7486 0049 

Password: 337385

Session 1| Thursday, 29 April, 2021 (18h, Lisbon time)

CHAIR: David Graham

Rubem Amaral Jr.:
Applied emblems in the early paper-money and other old value papers in Portugal

As far as I could investigate, the United States of America and Portugal were the only countries to employ emblems/devices from emblem books in their earliest paper-money: the USA during the War of Independence (1775-1783); Portugal in the turn of the 18th to the 19th century (1797-1834). Both took devices from the same source, but there was a big difference: the ones in the American case reproduced the inscriptiones and the picturae, an aspect that made the identification easy through the search tools on the Internet; the result of my research on them was published in SES Newsletter. As for the Portuguese ones, only the picturae were reproduced. Thus, it was thanks to the knowledge I had recently acquired from the source that allowed me to discover their origin. Otherwise it would have been almost unidentifiable as parts of devices. Numismatists who dealt with the American items knew about the emblematic nature of the images, without giving great importance to the matter, and, in my opinion, they mistook the precise source. Those who dealt with the Portuguese ones never perceived the emblematic character of the images, and generally described them as bucolic scenes, which is correct only for part of the whole series. Besides that, at that time other Portuguese value papers were illustrated with devices’ picturae from the same origin. All in all, picturae of thirty-eight different emblems were applied on these documents. 

Francesco Del Sole:

Architectural archetypes in emblematic culture between the 16th and 18th centuries


The emblematic has created a culture that no longer reflects a civilization of images or words but a civilization of signs, in which both things coexist simultaneously. In this context, where the image is the protagonist, many emblematic artists assign a very important role to representations of the famous archetypes of antiquity (Pyramid, Colossus, Amphitheatre, Hanging Garden, Temple). These artists, starting from the results of archaeological investigations on ancient monuments that since the fifteenth century have interested antiquarians such as Pirro Ligorio, use these architectural models as a symbolic heritage to be used in the representation of Vices and Virtues and to crystallize, with noble and ancient images, the classical precepts. In the case of the Pyramids, they are commonly a symbol of eternity and power. But the exploitation of the "pyramid" model is not limited to these aspects. The archetype even goes so far as to represent the general idea of Virtue, of justice, of society. The image is iridescent, the pyramid rotates on itself, collapses, flies in the sky, breaks and then is reconstructed. There is a process of metamorphosis of the original image that forms itself around the words that are next to it. This type of investigation has made it possible to look at ancient archetypes from a point of view that is not archeological-reconstructive but an exercise in extrapolating the image. The image is at the service of fantasy and does not obey objective-archaeological rules but only plays on the link that is created between archetype and motto. It is possible to reconstruct an iconographic excursus that can highlight the symbolic meanings that each ancient archetype assumes, using the results of a research that has involved about 800 volumes of emblems.

Watch the Video of the first session at:                    

Session 2 |Thursday, 27 May, 2021 (18h Lisbon time)
CHAIR: Manuel Ferro

Takao Kawanishi (University of Tokyo): The Study of the symbol of Holy Grail from Coimbra in Portugal to Japan


In the 16-17th Century, at the age of Discovery in Portugal, Japan as World End (Far East) contacted to Europe and Christianity especially Catholic by Kingdom of Portugal or IHS society such as another the End (Far West). The Coimbra (University) man as Missionary came to Japan. So, my thesis is relationship about two Holy Grail symbol (Flag or Emblem) about city and municipality Coimbra and, the tragic-mysterious War of Shimabara (Shimabara Rebellion,1637-38) in Japan.

Moreover, The Shimabara Flag(Academic name:綸子地著色聖体秘蹟図指物Holy Eucharist Sacrament Banner of figured satin, or Alias:天草四郎陣中旗Field Flag of Amakusa Shiro: c.1621-38 made by European style Japanese painter and the war vice commander, the only one survivor山田右衛門作Yamada Emosaku: c.1598-1657)using the War, which drew Holy Grail or Sacrament is also said the one of the three World Crusader Flags (Jerusalem Crusader in 11-14th Century, and Jeanne d'Arc for France in 15th Century).

However, was it correct for the meaning as War (Battle) Flag in Shimabara? or(conceivably) actually Peace or Relief (Salvation) Flag and Symbol wasn’t it? Accordingly, I will confirm about the meaning from the view of the history of Coimbra Grail Flag leading Shimabara’s through the Japanese Missionary to Europe of Tenbun(天文) by Bernardo of Satsuma(薩摩のベルナルドJapan, Kagoshima?-1557 studied Coimbra University and the last and grave place in Coimbra), Tensho(天正), and Keicho(慶長遣欧使節)at the Era of Catholic Christianity in Japan.

Through mainly two (Coimbra and Shimabara) Flags, I will point out what both very rare image and concept of Holy Grail Flags mean in the time and even now using Iconology and Global history, Human Geography.

Tamar Abramson (Tel Aviv University): The Donatello Code: Attis-Amorino as a Proto-Emblematic Riddle 


The iconographic riddle manifested in Donatello’s (1386-1466) Attis-Amorino (c. 1435-40) has been puzzling its viewers for over four hundred years. This winged putto with exposed genitals, tail, ornamented belt, winged ankles, and a friendly snake to its feet contains many attributes, but without a coherent connection between them. The statue received identifications over the years, such as Mercury, Cupid, Amor-Hercules, and many more. The scholarly inability to associate all the attributes to one character leaves the statue an enigma to this day. My proposition is to turn our attention to the social and cultural environment in which Attis-Amorino was created, the circle of humanists, learned patrons and artists centered around Cosimo de’ Medici (1389-1464), Donatello’s most prominent patron. The inclusion of artists in this circle allowed them to exchange ideas with the leading humanists, and to create intriguing and puzzling works of art, such as Attis-Amorino. As I will argue, Donatello’s statue can be seen as a proto-emblematic enigma, created in order to provoke its viewer to think, and to become the subject of learned discussion among 15th century humanists, patrons, and artists. I will suggest that the emblematic rhetoric, which invites the reader\viewer to contemplate, discuss and interpret an emblem, was well in place in 15th century Florentine art. Artworks such as Attis-Amorino expressed a contemporary need for intellectual challenges that would combine text, image, and the active role of the viewer, a need that was manifested in enigmatic works of art, and was eventually fulfilled by Andrea Alciato’s Emblematum liber in 1531.

Watch the Video of the second session at:

road to coimbra 2
Session 3 | Thursday, 24 June, 2021 (18h Lisbon time)CHAIR: Elizabeth Black

Liana Cheney (University of Massachusetts Lowell): “The Shepheard Buss”: Embroidery of Love and Sorrow

An unusual Elizabethan cover made of linen embroidered in silk and bobbin lace border is exhibited at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London (No. T.219-1953). The origin of the commission and the artist is unknown but the visual imagery and Latin and Italian inscriptions unveil a beautiful lament about love and despair. This paper will present an interpretation of the emblematic imagery found in the border of the cover or hanging cloth of 1500-1600.  The combination of words and reuses tells the viewer the love story of a shepherd. 

Isabel Lloret (University Jaume I, Castellón): Ferdinand of Austria's military education. Paideia siue militari artis peritia (Brussels, 1636)

In the Historical context of the Thirty Years’ War, Fort Schenkenschans was taken by Flemish troops led by Don Fernando of Austria, in the Historical context of the Thirty Year’s War. This fort that supposed to be the entry into Holland territories was reconquered by the Dutch army on April 30, 1636. Ernst van Veen, Otto Vaenius’ son dedicated the book Paideia sive militaris artis to him, on the occasion of this great loss, in order to encourage him.

Throughout this text, we will try to explain the meaning of this emblem book, as well as the variety of several influences by other books of emblems, numismatic images, Biblical and Patristic texts, which mix their own meaning with stoic emblematical roots.

Watch the Video of the third session at :

Watch the Video of the third session at :

road to coimbra 3

Session 4 | Thursday, 28 October, 2021 (18h Lisbon time)

CHAIR: Simon McKeown

Cezara Bobeica (University of Strasbourg): Visual and verbal strategies of occultation in Henry Peacham’s emblem book Minerva Britanna (1612)

Giuditta Cirnigliaro (University Roma 3): Leonardo’s Emblems and Word-and Image Devices: A Digital Initiative

More info

Sessions will be recorded and put on public display (unless the speakers withhold permission).

Please join us on the Road to SES Conference Coimbra!