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Gilles Corrozet's Emblemes,,
in his Cebes, Le Tableau,
Denis Janot for Gilles Corrozet, 1543


This work is reproduced from Glasgow University Library: SMAdd384


Gilles Corrozet’s Emblemes constitute the last two gatherings in his book, largely devoted to a French version of the Tabula Cebetis, the Tableau de Cebes, a Platonic work describing allegorically the path of virtue and discipline which must be followed in order to achieve happiness. Here, and in the second work in the volume, La Volupté vaincue, Corrozet makes clear his position in the celebrated “Querelle des amies”: Corrozet aligns himself firmly in the tradition of Plato and Ficino. These two works contain illustrative woodcuts which ally them to the emblem tradition. When it comes to the Emblemes themselves, Corrozet seems to be exploring a format different from not only Alciato’s tripartite emblem, but also the pattern he himself used in his earlier emblematic work, the Hecatomgraphie (1st edition 1540).

Gilles Corrozet (1510-1568)

Gilles Corrozet was a true Renaissance figure: he was both a publisher and a man of letters and historian, even a philosopher, in his own right. A self-made man who undertook no formal university studies, he was moved by the desire to instruct others and to bring learning to a wide public. Among his historical works are two on the history of Paris (La fleur des antiquitez de la noble et triumphante ville de Paris, Paris, 1532 and Les antiquitez, histoires et singularitez de Paris (Paris 1552), as well as ones concerning other French towns and Spain. His linguistic skills and his philosophical interest are reflected in his Diffinition et perfection de l’amour (Paris: D. Janot, 1541-1542), a French version of Marsilio Ficino’s commentary on Plato’s Symposium. More closely related to his emblematic endeavours are his Blasons domestiques, as well as his Historiarum Veteris Testamenti Icones (Lyon, 1539) with woodcuts by Holbein, the Simulaches et historiees faces de la mort (Lyon, 1538), his translation of Aesop (Paris, 1542), and his Tapisserie de l’église chrétienne (Paris, n. d.). His Emblemes appearing in the back of his Tableau de Cebes is considerably less well-known than his Hecatomgraphie, which ran to several editions between 1540 and 1551.

Publication History (for more information F.192, 194, 199)

Denis Janot was responsible for publishing Corrozet’s Tableau de Cebes, with the Emblemes in the back, as well as his earlier Hecatomgraphie. Two editions appeared dated 1543, but the typography indicates that the second one is in fact from 1544. We reproduce the first of these two editions here. Link to bibliographical descrip Remarkably, the Emblemes are published again almost 100 years later, in an anthology, Emblemes ou preceptes moraux tirez des escrits de feu Gilles Corrozet, published by Jean Corrozet in Paris in 1641. The Emblemes constitute the first 46 emblems in this volume; by no means all the remaining texts are in fact by Gilles Corrozet, despite the title.

Gilles Corrozet’s Emblemes, in his Cebes, Le Tableau, Paris, Denis Janot for Gilles Corrozet, 1543

This work, like the Hecatomgraphie, has a distinctive structure: a woodcut, on the recto, is followed by a motto and verse (huitain) on the same page, and a further two on the following verso. Then the pattern is repeated.

GUL: SMAdd384: G7v-G8r. Actual page height: 141mm.
GUL: SMAdd384: G7v-G8r. Actual page height: 141mm.

There are 46 emblems, or verses in all, with the last woodcut followed by only one verse. Whether the woodcuts relate to all three verses or only to the one immediately following is open to debate. The only emblem book which has anything approaching this structure is Maurice Scève’s Délie (1544) in which nine verses follow each woodcut.

Select Secondary Bibliography

Alison Adams, Stephen Rawles, Alison Saunders, A Bibliography of French Emblem Books, 2 vols (Geneva: Droz, 1999-2002): entries F.189-199 cover editions of Corrozet; this edition is entered as F.192 [LINK TO BIBLIOG DESCRIP]

Corrozet, Gilles, L’Hecatongraphie (1544) & Les Emblemes du Tableau de Cebes (1543), reproduits en facsimilé avec une étude critique par Alison Adams (Genève: Droz, 1997).

Alison Saunders, ‘Emblem Books for a Popular Audience? Gilles Corrozet’s Hecatomgraphie and Emblèmes, Australian Journal of French Studies 17 (1980), 5-29.

Page written by Alison Adams.


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