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Andrea Alciato

Andrea Alciato was a jurist from the Italian city of Milan who settled in France in the early 16th century. A learned man, Alciato wrote a number of legal treatises, but he is most famous for his Emblemata[?], published in dozens of editions from 1531 onward. This collection of short Latin verse texts and accompanying woodcuts created an entire European genre, the emblem book[?], which attained enormous popularity in continental Europe and Britain. Emblem books, normally containing about one hundred picture/text combinations, were intended to inspire their readers to reflect on a general moral lesson derived from the reading of both picture and text together. The picture was potentially subject to numerous interpretations: only by reading the text could a reader be certain which meaning was intended by the author.

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