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Georgette de Montenay: a different voice in sixteenth-century emblematics.

The feminists of the querelle [des femmes] were reacting to changes they seemed to have no control over, or to a Puritan revolution that served mainly to confirm their subjection to men. Lacking a vision of social movement to change events, their concern lay with consciousness. By their pens, they could at least counteract the psychological consequences of what they felt was a recent, steady decline in the position of women.

Joan Kelley, "Early Feminist Theory and the

Qurelle des Femmes," in Women, History and Theory

GEORGETTE DE MONTENAY HAS BEEN the object of enduring scholarly interest, not only as the first woman author of an emblem book, but also as the creator of a new literary and artistic genre: the religious emblem. Most probably converted to Protestantism under the influence of Jeanne d'Albret, Queen of Navarre (to whose court she was attached after her marriage to Guyon de Gout, c. 1562),(1) de Montenay composed a series of one hundred militant Christian octets in the mid-1560s and closely supervised their illustration by a gifted Lyonnais etcher, Pierre Woeiriot, who was also of the reformed persuasion.(2) The Emblesmes ou devises chrestiennes were finally published in 1571 by a brother in religion, Jean Marcorelle, and were to have an immediate success.(3) So great were their popularity that, despite the destruction of most extant copies after the tragic events of the Saint Bartholomew's Day massacre (August 1572), the Emblemes chrestiens were repeatedly republished and widely imitated throughout Protestant Europe and in all of the major European languages.(4)

Georgette de Montenay's merit and contemporary success lay, above all, in the felicitous merging of several literary and iconographic traditions. As a poet specializing in pious and meditative verse, she followed the example set by other well-educated and aristocratic women authors such as Marguerite de Navarre.(5) As an author of emblematic verse in the vernacular, she adopted (and transformed) a highly successful humanist literary tradition in order to convey a didactic Calvinist message in palatable form.(6) Finally, as an emblem author who directed the engraving of the metal plates destined to illustrate her moral and religious poems, de Montenay also drew heavily upon two well-known and widespread artistic traditions: emblematic allegory and Christian iconology.(7)

Her innovations, however, were not solely limited to areas of literary accomplishment or Protestant propaganda. What has hitherto escaped the notice of scholars is Georgette de Montenay's refusal to reproduce the misogynist ethic of the humanist emblem tradition, a tradition based primarily on the repetition of stock themes and motifs with only minor literary or iconographic variations.(8) And not only did she refuse the misogynist ethic of her predecessors, but she also proposed, in place of current canons of female conduct, a model of educated and spiritually superior womankind, as well as a more equitable vision of relations between the sexes. Unfortunately, despite both her lasting fame and the instant vogue of religious emblem imagery (which was to flourish throughout the following century(9)), de Montenay's aristocratic, spiritual, and enlightened lightened ideal of gender relations was destined to find no followers within the emblematic genre.


Georgette de Montenay's verse dedications to Jeanne d'Albret and to the reader are particularly revealing with respect to both the author's purpose and her consciousness of having ventured upon what was hitherto an exclusively male domain: the humanist recueil d'emblemes.(10) She begins, as do most women authors at this time, by carefully minimizing the "temerity" of her literary accomplishment. (11) However, rather than describing her poetic efforts as a casual pastime (as is often the case with her predecessors), she declares her authorship to have been a pious exercise most particularly suited to her sex insofar as it permitted her to flee "damned sloth," "qui de tout vice est la droite nourrice." She then goes on to address her creation to a specifically female audience, describing it as a kind of pattern book for ladies who might wish to occupy their idle hours by either trying their hand at pious verse or decorating their homes with edifying needlework.(12) Faithful in this respect to the current emblem tradition where authors' prefaces generally provide long lists of the decorative uses to which their creations could be adapted,(13) de Montenay is equally faithful to her predecessors insofar as she credits Alciati's emblemes exquis with having inspired her to write her own.(14) The didactic moral purpose of the earlier emblem writers is also expressed and expanded upon in the reformed pedagogy of the Emblemes chrestiens. She proposes her illustrated verses as so many "goads" to wake up those who have succumbed to a "lascivious" way of life. Some will be attracted by the pictures, some by the poetry, but all will hopefully be converted to her ultimate objective: the triumph of Christ's reign on earth and the defeat of the Antichrist.(15)

Over and above her quasi-apologetic description of the genesis and purpose of her work in terms of acceptable feminine occupations - religious reflection and needlework - Georgette also conforms to gendered literary conventions by denigrating her "clumsy and stupid" verse and attributing to the (male) reader a courtly attitude tolerant of feminine weakness.(16) She nonetheless goes on to circumvent this obligatory lip-service to the principle of female inadequacy and asserts the value of her poems by accusing potential detractors of having "poisoned hearts" and being the friends of ignorance rather than lovers of true "science" (i.e. religion) and virtue.(17) Alternating between self-disparagement and the affirmation of the evangelical importance of her work, she finally concludes with another stock statement used by a number of women authors at this time. Declaring that she had initially intended to write only for her own home, she protests that she had been urged (she does not say by whom) to make public her God-given talent, which would be most "unreasonable" to hide.(18) By attributing her writing to an act of divine grace, de Montenay uses a currently acceptable justification for female trespass on male territory to further validate her own creation.(19) She thus concludes her introduction with an argument which was not only calculated to still any further criticism of her opus but also cast a halo of divine light about her own person. As such she becomes a more than acceptable exception to the rules governing the propriety of womanly access to the male domains of emblem literature and theological reflection.

The self-excusing rhetoric and understandable precautions that characterize Georgette de Montenay's versified introductions serve the traditional purpose of paying homage to the cultural status quo in which educated women had a disputed right of access and virtually no right to self-expression. All these precautions were, however, doubly necessary on the part of a Protestant author writing in a period of acute religious and political tension(20) whose literary transgressions were hardly limited to the spheres of religion and gender, but also extended to a refusal of the humanist world view and the cult of classical antiquity dear to the sixteenth-century emblem tradition.


Like all sixteenth-century emblem books, the Emblesmes ou devises chrestietines sought to simultaneously attract and edify readers by pairing didactic verses with allegorical images. The "message" of emblem illustrations could be either complimentary or redundant with respect to their accompanying text, but these images generally conveyed, in a sort of iconographic shorthand, philosophic reflections on the nature of humanity and the world, pious maxims, moral exempla, and an abundance of behavioral models representative of the educated urban patriciate which was principally responssible for writing, publishing, and consuming these books.

The ethical bias of the emblem is particularly transpare with respect to the representation of gender and social ideology insofar as the male and female personifications used in the picturall are invested with a positive or negative value according to the concept they are supposed to convey. An example from Gilles Corrozet's Hecatomgraphie (Paris, 1540) will demonstrate how both social values and gender stereotypes are conveyed by these highly popular images (fig. I).(22) Here a naked woman, wearing the housewife's coiffe, is compared to a flock of birds. The accompanying verses (the next page contains no less than 24 lines on the subject of feminine faults) point out the flighty nature of women and the many difficulties men have in controlling them.

This rather negative vision of female nature was common to all (male) emblem authors who, as members of the urban ruling classes, had a vested interest in what Joan Kelley has called the "bourgeois domestic norm."(24) I have demonstrated elsewhere the prevalence of a conservative and predominantly unfavourable view of women in both emblem books and single-sheet prints as compared to a more balanced image of both men and animals/plants/ objects, whose positive and negative representations are roughly Alone among sixteenth-century emblem equal in both mediums.(25) Alone among sixteenth-century emblem authors, Georgette de Montenay refuses the dominant distribution of gender values by according women more positive than negative representations (58% of her illustrations representing women are Positive versus 42% negative), conversely saddling men with the villain's role (only 42% of male representations are positive versus 47% negative and 11% neutral):(26)
Table 1

Positive, Negative, and Neutral Representations of Women, Men,
and Animals/Plants/Objects in Georgette de Montenay's
Emblesmes ou devises chrestiennes(27)
 Positive Negative Neutral TOTAL
Women 58% 42% 0% 100%
Men 42% 47% 11% 100%
Plants 35% 39% 26% 100%
 AVERAGE 45% 43% 12% 100%

Another interesting aspect of de Montenay's "feminist" interpretation of the emblematic world-view is her refusal to assign a neutral value to her allegorical female figures. This, however, is not as original as it may seem at first. All emblem illustrators tend to attribute a more clearly positive or negative value to women (only 8% have a neutral role), whereas the rest ofthe emblem "actors"--men and animals/plants/objects--have a more varied or pluralistic (as opposed to polarized) identity, being, as can be seen in the following table, more evenly balanced with respect to their positive, negative, and neutral values:
Positive, Negative, and Neutral Representations of Women,
Men, and Animals/Plants/Objects in Sixteenth-century
French Emblem Books(28)
 Positive Negative Neutral TOTAL
Women 36% 56% 8% 100%
Men 40% 39% 21% 100%
Plants 36% 38% 26% 100%
 AVERAGE 37% 45% 18% 100%

Here one can also see that a negative outlook prevails in the emblematic universe as a whole (45% of all emblems are negative, 37% are positive and 18% are neutral). This dreary view of the world and its inhabitants was nothing new at the time, as research on the pessimism of the Reniaissance has pointed out.(29) What is, however, more significant for the purpose of this study is the fact that, on the whole, emblem book illustrators consider men to be slightly more positive than negative, and animals/plants/objects only slightly more negative than positive. It is women, and women alone, who tip the balance sharply for the worse: 56% of them are assigned negative roles and only 36% positive. Women also appear to be significantly less "good" than men, being equal (in "goodness") only to the lower orders of the universe: the animal, vegetable, and inanimate worlds.

The weight of this masculine, bourgeois, and humanist emblem tradition was such that any deviation from the emblematic norm had to entail a discrete reworking of both text and image. It was just such a reworking that Georgette de Montenay undertook in her "feminist," aristocratic, and religious devices. Not only did she manage to avoid the current emblematic prejudice with respect to women, but she also proposed, as an alternative, a more equal and spiritually enlightened model of gender relations.(30) This reworking is particularly developed in the metal plates de Montenay designed to illustrate her plous and moral verses. By cannily manipulating current iconographic codes in order to omit a number of de rigueur negative representations of women, she also managed to avoid all of the equally popular positive representations which did not support her own vision of feminine identity.


How exactly did the Emblesmes ou devises chrestiennes manage to break away from the current mold, and why was Georgette's example which was enthusiastically followed with respect to her didactic religious content) decisively rejected with respect to her re-evaluation the female form? A few significant examples of de Montenay's subtle manipulation of iconographic codes and visual commonplaces will show how she created a variant pictorial world in which women were perhaps less present than in other emblem books, but also much less critically viewed.

To begin with, this reformed poetess significantly diminished the number of her feminine representations. Only 11% of the Emblemes chrestiens that feature the human form actually represent women. This is a record low for the sixteenth century and less than half of the average, which is 26%.(31) Where do such omissions appear? More often than not, in images where a female presence would traditionally be given a negative value. Let us take, for example, de Montenay's sixty-fifth emblem, "Ubi Es," which refers to the Original Sin (fig. 2). Here Adam crouches behind a fig tree to hide from the Lord, but, as the versified text points out, no sins can be hidden from the eyes of God. The most striking aspect of this picture is, of course, the absence of Eve, on whose shoulders partial (if not total) responsibility for the Fall is usually laid. Sixteenth-century religious iconography--both Protestant and Catholic--rarely missed the opportunity to underscore Eve's role in this event, as can be seen in a woodcut by Bernard Salomon (fig. 3) from Guillaume Paradin's Quadrins historiques de la Bible (Lyons, 1553). Here the first woman simultaneously offers Adam both her breast and the apple, whose identical shape and size emphasize the contemporary interpretation of the event as being a sexual transgression well as an act of disobedience. A further reference to female responsibility is given by the serpent, whose womanly head and torso visually underscore Eve's role as an active intermediary and suggest a feminine alliance in sin to the detriment of man. Another Protestant engraver, Etienne Delaune, has Adam point an accusing finger in Eve's direction when God reproves them both with their disobedience (Parts/Strasbourg 1557-76) (fig. 4). To return to the humanist emblem tradition, a 1549 Lyons edition of Alciati's Emblemes also refers to the seductive role played by Eve in inducing Adam to forget his promise to God. In a woodcut attributed to Pierre Eskrich, the well-known iconography of the Original Sin is transformed into a composite metaphor where a siren-like apple tree (the trunk is the body of a naked woman) represents the country of the lotus eaters where Ulysses' companions also forgot their duty--not to God in this case but to their country, their familles, their friends, and their honour (fig. 5).

If emblem books of classical inspiration could draw heavily upon the Christian iconography of female responsibility in the Garden of Eden, the exclusion of Eve from Plerre Woeirlot's engraving can only be understood as an unusual and deliberate re-reading of Genesis. Georgette de Montenay here seems to assume a radical stance similar to that adopted by the "feminist" participants in the still fashionable and hotly raging querelle des femmes, where defenders of womankind tended to distribute responsibility more equally between Adam and Eve, if not even more heavily on the shoulders of the first man who, according to an occasionally paradoxical and conservative logic, should have availed himself of his masculine authority in order to impose correct behavior on his weaker-willed companion.(32)

Another example of what might be called de Montenay's "feminism, which is based on the omission or reworking of current iconographic stereotypes, is her emblem "Ex Natura" (fig. 6). Here humankind's terrestrial nature is represented by a man half-buried in the earth. Like the bramble which, no matter how high it grows, returns to take root in the ground, human nature is incapable of freeing itself from the weaknesses of the flesh which always pull it back to earth and away from God. Reflections such as this one on the earthly nature of humanity comprise one of the standard entries in sixteenth-century emblem books. The engravings that illustrate them, however, differ from de Montenay in that they favour the use of a female figure to signify the terrestrial weaknesses of the flesh as opposed to the celestial aspirations of the spirit. For example, an anonymous woodcut illustrating Barthelemy Aneau's Imagination poetique (another popular Lyonnals publication dating from 1552) shows a mythical beast--part woman, part ox--who is supposed to represent mankind (l'homme), human nature, and bestial ignorance (fig. 7). The verses commenting this picture are self-explanatory, the whole deriving from Ovid's Metamorphoses, What is important for our purpose here, however, is the identification of a female form with the physical, terrestrial, and animal nature of humankind as opposed to its spiritual qualities. A common motif in both literature and iconography, this opposition was based on a gender concept consecrated by Saint Paul and endorsed by the majority of authorities writing on the nature of the sexes.(33) Even ornamental images, such as an elaborate frame or cartouche engraved at Fontainebleau in 1544/45 by Antonio Fantuzzi (fig. 8), refer almost off-handedly to female physicality and male spirituality. Similarly, allegories of nature such as Philippe Galle's "Natura" (from Corneille Killan's Prosoptlqraphia, Antwerp?, c. 1590) insist upon the animal nature of womankind and a vision of the world according to which the female body constitutes a somewhat disquieting bridge between humanity and the realm of nature (fig. 9).(34)

The tendency to associate women with both nature and the terrrestrial characteristics of the flesh was based, of course, as much on identification of female reproductive biology with the fertility of nature as on the gender ideology of biblical authority and the Church Fathers.(35) It nonetheless provided the Renaissance with many positive representations of the female sex in both emblem literature and allegorical prints. Two examples, an anonymous woodcut representing Peace (from Gilles Corrozet's Hecatomgraphie, Paris, 1540) and an allegory of Abundance by Etienne Delaune (Strasbourg?, 1575), show one of the more polyvalent and most frequent of these representations based upon an identification of the female body with the reproductive forces of nature, in both cases a Ceres figure carrying a cornucopia (figs. 10 & 11). Of course the question which now arises is the following: if Georgette de Montenay seems to have deliberately excluded a female figure from her evocation of the terrestrial nature of humankind in order to avoid the traditional, negative representation of women in this guise, why should she have not opted, in another emblem, for one of the many positive prototypes then in circulation, all the more so as their debt to pagan mythology was certainly not incompatible with Christian allegory--as can be seen in a representation of Divine Grace by Philippe Galle (fig. 12).(36)

The fact of the matter is that Georgette de Montenay spurns not only most of the gender-negative classical references and many of the Christian themes dear to the humanist emblem book tradition, but she also refuses many of the more positive representations of women, especially those which emphasize female reproductive biology and marriage.


Despite the Protestant Reformation's insistence on the superiority of marriage and motherhood to celibacy and virginity, the Emblesmes ou devises chrestiennes contain but one reference to the social role considered--by Protestants and humanists alike--to be most suitable for women. "Non est fastidlosa" (fig. 13) is an allegory of Charity, one of the three theological virtues which, by the mid-sixteenth century, was generally represented by a doting mother surrounded by many small children as we can see, for example, in another Caritas by Corneille de Lyon, engraved around 1550 (fig. 14).(37) This eulogy of tender motherhood constitutes de Montenay's only reference to the contemporary social life of women. Absent from the Emblemes chrestiens are all references to the conjugal unit, a highly significant omission given the fact that the institution of marriage constitutes one of the core topics of all humanist emblem books, and one of those least critical with respect to women.

A couple of examples of the emblematic treatment of this subject will help to demonstrate the magnitude of Georgette's silence and throw some light on the possible reasons behind her choice. Gulllaume de La Perriere's Theatre des bons engins (Paris, 1539) features an anonymous woodcut representing a couple being married by a priest (figs. 5a & b). They are joined by a heavy chain (the unbreakable the of marriage); the husband's eyes are blindfolded and his hands are bound to show that a bride should not be chosen for her beauty or for her dowry but rather for her reputation and virtue. Another popular emblematic image of the ideal wife was that of the Spartan Venus, a statue said to have been sculpted by Phidias.(38) Generally shown standing on a tortoise (an animal considered representative of ideal female behavior insofar as it never leaves its house and never speaks), this model of domestic virtue appears in the majority of humanist emblem books. Emblem 18 of the Theatre des bons engins represents her complete with tortoise, a large household key, and a finger to her lips, all of which is meant to show that a wife should not wander about, should not "chat stupidly" or be a scold, and should take good care of the household goods which are left in her charge (figs. 16a & b).

I would like to suggest that although Georgette de Montenay was prepared to do homage to charitable maternity ill her Christian emblems, she drew the line at promoting the restrictive models of conjugal union and domestic duty which characterize both conduct literature and the humanist emblem tradition. She also refused those representations of women which emphasized physical attributes and reproductive biology, even if these were often considered positive characteristics by male emblem authors. The fact is that the dominant vision of marriage, conjugal hierarchy, and female fertillty was contradictory to her concept of the ideal relationship between the sexes, a relationship that this aristocratic, well-educated, and long celibate woman (she married relatively late for a noblewoman, between ages 22 and 32) describes in what were by 1571 both anachronistic and polemic terms.


One of the most innovative illustrations of the Emblemes chrestiens is the one representing Virtue, or rather Virtu, the humanist ideal of spiritual, intellectual, and physical perfection imported from Renaissance Italy (fig. 17). On the top of a rock (symbol of stability), surrounded by undulating seas, stands a female personification of Virtue. A banner in her hand is inscribed with the words "In via virtuti nulla est via" ("Nothing is inaccessible to virtue"). She supports a column (symbol of strength, one of the four cardinal virtues) and gazes raptly up at the heavens, being more concerned with celestial matters than with those terrestrial. Below her struggles a man in Greco-Romaii armor. Precariously maintaining his balance in a little boat, he hacks laboriously away at the rock in order to make a path to reach this exceptional lady.

In the octet commenting this emblem, a Christian interpretation is given to a Neoplatonic concept popular in court circles. A woman of plety and virtue can lead a man to both Virtu and Christ: by perfecting himself in order to please his lady, the gentleman will also learn to please God and thus find himself on the path of salvation. De Montenay here places woman in an intermediary position between man and God, an elevation which becomes doubly sigficant if we remember her refusal to reproduce the current stereotype of Eve as an intermediary between man and Satan. This elevation of the plous and virtuous woman to a position of direction and guidance is, furthermore, repeated and reinforced in another emblem, "Vigilate" (fig. 18), which represents one of the Wise Virgins.(40) Here appears an energetic maiden, whose hiked-up skirt is a sign of her diligence. The candles she holds throw the light of learning and sacred knowledge on a gentle landscape while, at her feet, donkey-eared (male) figures cower in the shadows of ignorance.

According to these two Einblemes chrestiens, it would seem that Georgette de Montenay advocates for women the superior, guiding role that had long been fashionable in court circles, from the feudal institution of courtly love to the humanist variant of Neoplatonic inspiration.(41) At the same time, she accords women a directive role in the teaching and dissemination of religious values, a role that had a special meaning for both aristocratic and bourgeols women ill France, be they of Catholic or Protestant persuasion.(42) Far from embracing the domestic and conjugal model set forth by conduct literature and humanist emblems, de Montenay proposes a vision that not only contradicts the restrictive models of the urban ruling classes but also places women in a position clearly superior to that of men.

Very few of the etchers who worked for the social elites made use of similar gender hierarchies in their allegorical imagery. A rare example can be found in the work of the Protestant goldsmith, Etinenne Delaune, whose personification of Rhetoric (Paris/Strasbourg, 1557-76) is placed, like the statue of a goddess, in a niche where it is revered by two laurel-wreathed (i.e. learned) men (fig. 19). However, the vast majority of emblems and allegorical prints

that praised female virtue and occasionally placed women in a position superior to men did not valorize their moral strength, piety, and learning (as is the case with Georgette's virtuous women) but rather celebrated a militant defense of their chastity--that one virtue without which (all authorities agreed) female honor was lost. A Minerva-like personification of Virtue engraved and printed by Philippe Galle for Corneille Killan's Prosopographia recommends just such a militant defense of chastity (fig. 20), which here triumphs over a satyr, meant to be a symbol of "pernicious desire." It is interesting to note that the "mall" over whom Lady Virtue triumphs is, in fact, but half-man/half-animal, while in other prints dealing with this theme he is altogether absent, being replaced by reptile, such as a snake or a dragon. An example of this is Adrian Le Jeune's twenty-fourth emblem (fig. 21), "La vierge se doibt soucier de sa pudicite, & la femme mariee de sa maison" (Antwerp, 1567). On the left a Minerva figure stands on a dragon, an emblem that appears in virtually every sixteenth-century collection since Alciati, who first used it to represent the vigilant custody in which virgins must be kept, although here it is used to denote the virgin's triumph over lust.(43) Next to Minerva stands another Spartan Venus figure, poised upon her tortoise. These two models of female virtue, the one maidenly militant and the other domestic, hardly place women in a position superior to men, nor do they define womanly virtue by anything more than the preservation of chastity and social decorum. Absent from all of these representations of female virtue are the references to superior piety and learning so central to the Emblemes chrestiens and so innovative in terms of the contemporary emblem tradition.

What happened after de Montenay's emblematic proposal of an alternative model for womanly virtue? One of her most fervent admirers, Jean Jacques Boissard, was a noted scholar of classical antiquity whose dedication to his studies was surpassed only by his devotion to the reformed religion. His emblem book (first published in Metz in 1584 with illustrations by Theodore de Bry) owes a great deal to her example, and some of the entries are practically direct quotations. Boissard's "Invia virtuti nulla est via" (fig. 22) presents, however, some notable variations with respect to de Montenay's vision. Not only is the accent on feminine superiority to man absent from this picture, but Boissard has reverted to the military metaphor for maidenly virtue dear to the human' tradition. The armed goddess Minerva, famous for her vigorous virginity, is using moral strength (rather than spiritual superiority) to carve a path through the rock in order to reach "une chose divine."(44) No longer a spiritual guide for struggling manhood, Virtue is here a mythological and allegorical figure whose potential as a role model for contemporary women would have been rather difficult to transpose into concrete terms.(45)

Like Jean Jacques Boissard, all of de Montenay's imitators refuse her Neoplatonic, courtly vision of the relationship between the sexes, doubtless because this vision had already become a relative anachronism: an unacceptable and even antiquated reference to an elite behavioral model that was in the process of being overwhelmed by a middle-class ideal of cloistered, chaste, domestic, and, above all, subordinate womankind.(46)

Feminine Faults

Although the Emblesmes ou devises chrestiennes constitute an exception to the sixteenth-century emblem tradition insofar as they feature more positive than negative representations of women, a number of faults are nonetheless attributed to the female sex.(47) Yet here, as elsewhere, Georgette de Montenay ultimately refuses a number of the more salient misogynist themes of the contemporary emblem tradition in favor of her own concept of womanly virtue.

The faults of which women are accused in the Emblemes chrestiens are ignorance, hypocrisy, idolatry, and false religion. "Coinquinat" or "Crass Ignorance" (fig. 23) is a donkey-eared woman who is represented pouring the contents of a chamber pot over a sphere (the world). Although this metaphor is stretched in the accompanying verses to include a condemnation of apostasy, her basic reference is to a female personification of ignorance combined with animal attributes, which was one of the most common emblematic representations of this fault. Alciati's Ignorance, for example, is a leonine woman, a sphinx with flowing hair (fig. 24), and Barthelemy Aneau's bestial ignorance is part woman, part ox (fig. 7 above).

If ignorance can cause apostasy, an equally base cupidity can cause idolatry. De Montenay's "Idolorum serv'tus" (fig. 25) shows an elderly run holding two money bags and adoring the golden calf, whereby the Catholic Church is accused of worshipping both idols and wealth. Underneath the Protestant veneer and its iconoclastic message, however, lies a long-standing association of women with avarice and idolatry. Philippe Galle's Catholic version of "Diffidentia Dei" is also female (fig. 26). Clutching her money bag, she turns away from God, here represented by the sun.(48)

Another traditionally feminine fault attributed to a Catholic nun is that of hypocrisy( fig. 27). The iconography of "Frusta me colunt" derives from allegorical images, such as emblem 73 in Guillaume de La Perribre's Theatre des bons engins (figs. 28a & b), which represent the flattery of courtiers who wag their tongues but hide their hearts. The association of femininity with falsehood is, however, one of the strongest themes in sixteenth-century allegory.(49) A personification of Fraud by Jacques Androuet DuCerceau (fig. 29) represents a woman caressing a man in order to plunge her hand into his purse (Paris/Geneva, 1540-80), while Philippe Galle's "Fraus" (fig. 30) is a masked woman carrying a mousetrap and a fishing pole (Antwerp?, c. 1590). These are only two examples of an immensely popular iconographic topos that was evidently well known by the author. What is interesting to note here, however, is that the Emblemes chrestiens contain two further references to falsehood in which, contrary to current usage, it is men who are accused of betraying truth or misrepresenting religion. "Vae" (fig. 31) is a man of letters who shows a pretty heart in his hand while his true black heart hides in his bosom. "Lumine carens" (fig. 32) is a theologian who hides a book (the scriptures) under his mantle while he shows a black sun for all to see. It would seem that, in matters of religion, Georgette de Montenay considers men to be more guilty of falsehood than women, whose deviation from truth would seem to be principally defined in terms of deviation from "true" religion.

The last negative emblem representing a woman, "Abundabit iniquitas" (fig. 33), features the Apocalyptic Whore of Babylon seated on a seven-headed monster, a figure which often appears in emblematic literature as a symbol of false religion. The 1549 edition of Alciati's humanist emblems, for example, features a similar paillarde (fig. 34): seated upon a many-headed beast with her cup of poisons, she is being worshipped by a group of men. Following Alclati's example, other allegorical applications of this figure tend to stress her role as a temptress who seduces men only to lead them to perdition. Two examples, one Protestant and one Catholic, will serve to illustrate this point. The first is an anonymous propaganda print Of 1591 printed for circulation in both German and French speaking countries (fig. 35). It represents the Great Whore of Babylon as a Lussuria figure,(50) adored by both heads of state and church leaders. She is, however, but a trap set by the pope in order to lure unsuspecting victims to his "shop" where, of course, they will barter not only their worldly goods but also their immortal souls. Around the year 1600 Jacques de Fornazeriis used this same figure for a Catholic allegory on man's obligation to choose between worldly pleasures and spiritual values (fig. 36). He here opposes two "vice" symbols, a little demon and the mythical Whore of Babylon, to two (masculine) representatives of virtue, God and a rather virile angel.

These several examples demonstrate, once again, Georgette de Montenay's reluctance to reproduce the current idee ricue (or should I say idee fixe?) according to which women formed a link between man and the devil. Her Whore of Babylon is not only represented alone, but the verses speak only of the poisons contained in her overflowing cup. She is therefore not represented as a Lussuria figure or as a diabolic agent sent to seduce men and ensure their perdition. This is doubtless due to the fact that all of de Montenay's negative representations of women constitute a kind of reverse of her positive representations. If her vision of female "goodness" is determined by spiritual superiority and all of her exemplary women act as the guardians of religious values, all of her "wicked" women represent deviations from this model, and from this model only.

The Refusal of Gender-Specific Oppositions

Over and above the innovation of Georgette de Montenay's proposal of a spiritual (rather than a chaste, conjugal, and domestic) model for female virtue, an equal share of her "feminist" reworking of the corpus emblematicum relies upon a refusal to represent women in the negative roles most often assigned to them by the sixteenth-century emblem tradition, allegorical imagery, and religious iconography. Eve is not the only female villain missing from the Emblemes chrestiens; absent are also all female-negative references to the sin of lust and the cruelty of love, topics which furnish some of the most frequent accusations against women in both emblematic literature and single-sheet prints.(51) Furthermore, where she does include an emblem on the many "traps" of the world (fig. 37), she gives it a more general and less gender-specific interpretation than do other emblem authors such as Andrea Alciati and Jean Jacques Boissard. The embleme chrestien "Comme d'oiseaux les cages sont remplies" shows a man setting traps for animals. According to the text these symbolize the houses of the morally perverse, which are full of iniquity, fraud, furore, and folly. Alciati's and Boissard's emblems on the same theme refer, on the other hand, explicitly to lust. The 1536 woodcut attributed to Mercure Jollat (figs. 38a & b) is entitled "Aux amoureux des putains," and Theodore de Bry's etching (fig. 39), which features a female monster alongside of the inevitable trap, bears the French title "Mille douleurs ensuyvent volupte. "(52)

Georgette de Montenay's reluctance to reproduce the misogynist bias of her predecessors is, in fact, directly proportional to her rejection of the humanist cult of classical antiquity in favor of a didactic Christian ethic.(53) This rejection also entails one of the most remarkable innovations of the Emblemes chrestiens: the author's refusal of current Christian/pagan, virtue/vice, or good/evil allegoric dichotomies which traditionally pit women against men or blame women for corrupting men and leading them astray. De Montenay's "Enemy of Christ" is not, as is so often the case, the Whore of Babylon-Antichrist or the pagan goddess Fortuna but a Greco-Roman archer whose arrows break against the anvil of true religion (fig. 40). When God breaks the Wheel of Fortune with a mere feather, this goddess is nowhere to be seen (fig. 41) -- an omission which is all the more significant as Fortuna is one of the most popular emblem actors.(54) One last opposition is that of human (and humanist) ignorance versus divine light, represented by a blind man in Greco-Roman dress (fig. 42) rather than by the traditional, half-woman, half-animal ignorance figure we have seen before (figs. 7, 23, and 24). "Blinded" by his pagan interests and lack of religious knowledge, he cannot read (i. e. understand) what is written in the Scriptures, neither by the light of the sun nor by the flame of a torch.

All three of these oppositions reject the dominant iconographic tradition according to which certain conflicts or oppositions were visualized by gender-specific personifications in which women were given the negative role. One of Boissard's religious emblems will serve to further illustrate this point and highlight the deliberate novelty of de Montenay's imagery. "Du jugement divin le decret immuable" (fig. 43) juxtaposes Christ and Minerva (or rather, Christian and Classical learning) to the detriment of the latter. Why should Minerva have been chosen to represent classical antiquity instead of another figure, such as the toga-clad and bearded sage equally dear to emblem illustrators?(55) Doubtless because the ethical concerns propounded by the humanist emblem tradition tended to visualize relationships of superiority/inferiority in terms of male dominance and female subordination, irrespective of any gender associations with the concepts being personified.

Neither Dichotomy nor Hierarchy, but Mutual Aid

Georgette de Montenay's rejection of the conflict-laden representation of gender relations current in humanist emblem books constitutes her most important contribution to the sixteenth-century debate on the relationship between the sexes. Rejecting the antagonistic dichotomy which characterizes both the "feminist" and "anti-feminist" arguments used in the querelle des femmes, she proposes a "fraternal" and cooperative model in which women and men help each other to reach salvation. Similar to "Invia virtuti nulla est via" (fig. 17 above), the emblem "Trahe fratres" (fig. 44) shows a man helping a woman climb a mountain representing religious instruction while, on the left, a second woman points another man in the right direction.

De Montenay's Christian version of the emblematic world is thus radically innovative with respect to the traditional iconographic discourse on women. Not only is she the sole emblem author to represent more positive than negative female allegories, and not only does she categorically refuse to endorse the bourgeois domestic ethic that characterizes the humanist portrait of the weaker sex, but she also rejects all conjugal, sensual, and antagonistic models for gender relations, replacing them with a model based on mutual help and a common goal.(56)

Her vision was, however, to remain an exception to a totalitarian emblem ideology. We have seen how Jean Jacques Boissard, one of her more loyal imitators, could reproduce religious and moral messages almost identical to those of the Emblemes chrestiens while repeatedly reverting, in the illustrations engraved by Theodore de Bry, to dominant gender stereotypes. Despite their immense popularity, the Emblesmes ou devises chrestiennes were to remain yet one more example of an educated woman's refusal of the dominant masculine definition of her own sex, yet one more example of a female voice fated to fall on deaf ears (or rather eyes) until politics were to replace religion as a conceptual basis for redefining gender relations.(57)

In conclusion to this essay on Georgette de Montenay's dissident voice with respect to the emblematic discourse on women, I would like to dwell briefly upon the further iconographic implications of the frontispiece and first emblem, i. e. her portrait, by Pierre Woeiriot, and a "portrait" of Jeanne d'Albret erecting the walls of a (Protestant) temple.

In the author's portrait, de Montenay is represented at her desk, pen in hand (fig. 45). On the desk lie a lute, a book of music, a smaller book (of prayers?), and a sheet of paper on which she has written the words "o plume en la main non vaine. " The accompanying verses explain the presence of these objects. Although they are as often associated in allegorical imagery with the iconography of worldly vanity as with the accomplishments appropriate to feminine virtue, both books and music here serve a special purpose for those of the reformed persuasion, for it is by their means that this author, "non vaine," sings the Lord's praises and exhorts others to follow her example. Far from constituting a self-effacing echo of her necessarily humble preface, this portrait provides a concrete and contemporary example of the type of educated and spiritually superior an whose allegorical portrait peoples the illustrations of the Emblemes chrestiens. De Montenay's likeness thus constitutes a visual exhortation, a vivid role model for women of intelligence, instruction, and piety to make use of their "feminine" accomplishments, to speak out, "d'esprit, de coeur, de parole et de voix" and devote themselves to the service of the Lord.

A second role model for contemporary women is to be found in the first emblem, "Sapiens muller aedificat domu" (fig. 46). Here de Montenay pays homage to the militant plety of Jeanne d'Albret, whose court was not only a refuge for a number of celebrated Protestant theologians and humanists but also provided a model of religious tolerance in that both Catholic and reformed religions coexisted there for relatively long periods of time.(58) Elegantly attired in a costume that evokes both sixteenth-century court dress and the flowing robes of Greco-Roman antiquity, the Queen of Navarre is here represented gracefully laying bricks, building the walls of a holy temple in which virtue will find a refuge and from which all vice will be expelled. Against the wall lie a compass, a right-angle, instruments that are often used in female personifications of the Arts and Sciences and here further identify the Queen with the idealized feminine figures of humanist allegory.(59) The emblem representing Jeanne d'Albret thus forms a kind of transition or bridge between the contemporary portrait of Georgette de Montenay and the female allegorical figures that are featured in the rest of the emblem illustrations.

Over and above its immediate semantic content and iconographic connotations, this pictura may also have a further meaning. It can hardly be a coincidence that the first of Georgette de Montenay's emblematic illustrations should so closely echo in both form and content one of the most consistently found manuscript illuminations in Christine de Pisan's Livre de la citd des dames (1405) wherein de Pisan helps Reason, a lady crowned like a queen, lay the foundations for the City of Ladies (fig. 47, British Library, Harley mss. 4431).(60) In this city "ladies and all valiant women may have a refuge and defence against the[ir] various assailants," and "no one will reside except all ladies of fame and women worthy of praise, for the walls of the city will be closed to those women who lack virtue."(61) Christine de Pisan's fictitious City of Ladies was supposed to provide a refuge for women in which they would be immune from the attacks of their enemies and detractors and wherein they would be free to pursue the paths of learning, virtue, and piety. One hundred and fifty years later, Jeanne d'Albret's "temple sainct," her court, provided a real refuge for men and women of piety and learning whose religious beliefs and, in the case of women, whose gender, normally rendered them vulnerable and subject to various forms of censure or persecution.

The similarities between these two last images can hardly be fortuitous. Although de Montenay's first objective in writing her emblems was undoubtedly religious, her second purpose might well be considered proto-feminist in that she deliberately proposed an alternative social and religious identity for women. As did Christine de Pisan over a century before, and as did a number of sixteenth-century women authors, Georgette de Montenay contributed her mite to a growing body of "feminine" literature characterized by a widening chorus of dissident voices.(62) But what is perhaps most important, in terms of de Montenay's specific innovations, is the fact that she enlarged the field of discourse by using visual, rather than verbal, texts. By carefully selecting and constructing the illustrations for her book of emblems, she conveyed a refusal of the largely negative and restrictive images of women touted by the authorities of her time, proposing in its stead her own vision of a superior feminine identity and more equal gender relations. (*) As Carol Gilligan pointed out in her landmark study. In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women's Development, male and female voices in literary texts demonstrate different modes of thinking about relationships, human development, and spiritual growth: "Clearly, these differences arise in a social context where factors of social status and power combine with reproductive biology to shape the experience of males and females and the relations between the sexes" (2). In fifteenth- and sixteenth-century France, a number of women authors had developed a "different voice" which expressed dissent with respect to the dominant patriarchal view of the female identity and gender relations current at their time. This article attempts to analyze Georgette de Montenay's particular "voice" within an exclusively masculine literary tradition--the illustrated livre d'emblemes. On the history of this feminine dissent in France, see Albistur and Armogathe chaps. 2-5; Berriot-Salvadore, 1983; Richardson; Rigolot and Read. I am grateful to the following international conferences for permitting me to develop earlier versions of this article: "Inferiority and Superiority: The Querelle des femmes in Renaissance Europe," European Culture Research Center, European University Institute, Florence (21-3 September 1989) and "Conferencia Juan Luis Vives y la concepcion de la mujer en el Renaciamento," Departament de Filosofia, Universitat de Valencia (11-12 March 1992). Special thanks are also due to Gisela Bock, Virginia Brown, Neus Campillo, Natalie Davis, Paul Gehl, Michael Good, Allen Grieco, Constance Jordan, Ian Maclean, and Gabriella Zarri for their helpful criticisms, suggestions and support. (1) Georgette de Montenay's biography has long remained a relative mystery. The only reliable information to date, based on recent archival discoveries, is that of Labrousse (I thank Natalie Zemon Davis for having acquainted me with this important article). Earlier biographies are to be found in the more literary studies of Clements and Zezula, 90-101; Reynolds-Cornell. 373-86. On the place of Georgette de Montenay in the French emblem book traditioni, see Matthews Grieco, 1991, 26-43; Russel, passim; Saunders, 1988. Form overview of emblem studies in general, see Bath, 15-20. (2) Sixteenth-century emblem authors and their illustrators collaborated in various ways. The general tendency was to imitate earlier emblem books or use stock vignettes from the printer's workshop (Matthews Grieco, 1991, 22-43). On the other hand, an existing body of illustrations could solicit the pen of a poet (Saunders, 1986, 621 Given the atypical iconography of the Emblemes chrestiens (as opposed to Pierre Woeiriot's fairy conventional treatment of religious allegory in the rest of his engraved work), and given the consensus of de Montenay scholars as to her authorship of this highly unusual series of pictures, it is legitimate to presume the guiding influence of Georgette de Montenay in the composition of the illustrations to her book (Labrousse, 386 and 390; Margolin, 419-23; Reynolds-Cornell, 17-27). (3) A!though the first edition was printed in 1571, its composition dates from some years earlier, as is indicated by the royal privilege dated 1566. (4) De Montenay's example was acknowledged and followed by both Theodore de Beze (1181) and Jean Jacques Boissard (1584). In the meanntime, her Lyonnais printer Jean Marcorelle had fled to Geneva with the entire set of copperplates, and the Emblesmes on devises chrestiennes were were subsequently published in all of the major Europe in languages: French, Latin, German, Flemish, Italian, Spanish, and English. Bilingual and polyglot editions were also published in 1584, 1602, 1619, and 1620. On the various transtations and editions of de Montenay through the early eighteenth century, see Moamai, 39-61. Perhaps the ultimate homage to the success of Georgette de Montenay's creation was the fact that the Counter Reformation soon decided to fight fire with fire and create its own collections of pious emblems. The early seventeenth century thus saw the birth of the Catholic emblem book, a propaganda device particularly favored by the Jesuit order. For details on the numerous editions of this book and its imitators, see Landwehr 1970, 1972, 1976. (5) On sixteenth-century women authors specializing in pious verse, see Berriot- Salvadore, 1990; Ferguere: Jourda; Labaline; Weber; Wilson. (6) Despite her acknowledged debt to Andrea Alciati's emblems, de Montenay draws heavily upon all of her emblematic predecessors, notably Guillaume de la Perriere (1539), Gilles Corrozet (1540), and Barthelemy Aneau (1552). On the staggering popularity of emblems in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Europe, see Praz 1964. So great was their influence that all areas of thought and expression were permeated by emblematic forms (see Daly, 54-68; Klein, 125-46; and Foucault, chap. 2). (7) On the Protestant use of prints as a vehicle for religious propaganda, see, for example, Wandel and Scribner. (8) Prior to Georgette de Montenay's religious variant, all sixteenth-century emblem books were of humanist inspiration. Alciati's original collection of epigrams was largely culled from a variety of classical sources (many are simply translations from the Planudean anthology). Although his many imitators varied their fare by adding contemporary proverbs and even occasionally their own compositions to the collection of poems illustrated in their recueils, the popularity of the emblem book rested more upon the repetition of well-known topics and themes than upon the originality of their contents. As Praz has pointed out, "Usually the emblem-writers copy unblushingly from their predecessors, sometimes using old engravings with a new text, or at the most introducing into the pictures as much alteration as was necessary to differentiate them (e.g. by reversing them)" (Praz, 1964, 50). On the differences between emblem books published before Georgette de Montenay's Emblemes chrestiens, see Saunders, 1988. (9) Not only did the Emblesmes ou devises chrestiennes create a new form of Reformation propaganda, but they also inspired the Jesuit order to create a new iconographic "science": iconomystica (Praz, 1964, 169-79). On the popularity of emblematic imagery and its assimilation into the urban print market, see Matthews Grieco, 1991, 20-43. (10) Dedication to Jeanne d'Albret, fol. 4. On the coded messages of prefaces and other liminal texts by sixteenth-century women authors, see Rigolot and Read. (11) On conventions with respect to justifying and/or excusing female authorship, consult Rigolot and Read. as well as authors cited supra n. 5. (12) "Pensant aussi qu'il sera bien propice / Amainte honneste & dame & damoiselle / Touchees au coeur d'amour saint & de Zele, / Qui le vovans voudront faire de mesmes, / Ou quelqu'autre oeuvre a leur gre plus qu'Emlemes: / Que toutesfois pourront accommoder / A leurs maisons, aux muebles s'en aider, / Rememorans tousiours quelque passage / Du saint escrit bien propre a leur usage, / Dont le Seigneur sera glorifie, / Et cependant quelcun edifie" (Dedication to Jeanne d'Albret, fol. 4). For examples of the decorative use of emblems, see Jourdain, 326-28; Praz, 1971, 212-18; Thirion, 13-27. (13) Alciati was the first to propose using his collection of illustrated verses as a pattern-book: "Tel est l'usaige, & utilite [des emblemes] que toutes & quantefois que aulcun vouldra attribuer, ou pour le moins par fiction applicquer aux choses vuides accomplissement, aux nues aornament, aux muetes parolle. atix brutes raison, il aura en ce petit livre (comme en ting cibinet tres bien garni) tout ce qu'il pourra, & vouldra inscripre, ou pindre aux murailles de la maison, aux verrieres, aux tapis, couvertures, tableaux, vaisseaulx, images, aneaulx, signetz, vestemrents, tables, lictz, armes, brief a toute piece & utensile, & en tous lieux: affin que l'essence des choses appartenenanes au commun usage soit eni tout, & par tout quasi vivemetit parliante, & au regard plaisante" (ed. Lyons, 1549, Preface). On the continuity of this tradition, see Matthews Grieco, 1991, 3 8-41. (14) "Alciat feit des Emblemes exquis, / Lesquels voyant de plusieurs requis, / Desir me prit de commencer les miens, / Lesquels ie croy estre preimer chrestiens" (Dedication to Jeanne d'Albret, fol. 4v) (15) "Ces cent pourtraitz seruiront d'aguillons / Pour reueiller la dure laschete / Des endormis en leur lasciuete. . . . / Il est besoin chercher de tous costes / Del'appetit pour ces gens degoustes: / L'un attire sera par la peinture, / L'autre y ioindra poesie & escriture. / Ce q'imprime sera sous vostre nom, / Lui donnera bon bruit & bon renom. / Or tout le but & fin ou i'ay pense / C'est le desir seul de veoir auance / Du fils de Dieu le regne florissant, / Et veoir tout peuple A luy obeyssant: / Que Dieu soit tout en tous seul adore / Et l'Anitechrist des enfers deuord" (fol. 4v-5). (16) As does, for example, Helisenne de Crennes (Wilson, 177-91). (17) "Amis lecteurs, ie ne prendray grand peine / Pour excuser ma rude & sotte veine, Sachant que ceux qui ont coeur vertueux / Ne me voudront estre si rogoureux / De n'excuser le sexe feminin, / D'un coeur courtois, & d'un vouloir benin. / Mais ceux qui sont plus amis d'ignorance / Que de vertu & de vraye science, / Ie voy desia de coeurs enuenimez / Jetter sur moy leurs charbons allumez" ("Aux Lecteurs," fol. 5v). (18) "Je ne pensois quand i'entreprin d'escrire, / Que iusqu'a vous il paruint pour le lire: / Ains seulement estoit pour ma maison: / Mais on me dit que ce n'estoit raison, Ainsi cacher le talent du Seigrieur / Qui m'en estoit tres liberal donneur" ("Aux Lecteurs," fol. 6v-7). (19) On the rhetoric of divine grace and feminine accomplihsment, see also Kingg, chaps. 2 and 3; Maclean, 1977, chap. 3. (20) On the religious turmoil of the mid-sixteenth century and its influence on the Emblesms ou devises chrestiennes, see Moamai, passini; and Reynolds-Cornell, chap. 4. (21) The emblem is generally composed of three parts for which the Latin terms are perhaps the most useful. The inscriptio is a short motto or proverb which usually features above or below the pictura illustrating it. The subscriptio is a poem of varying length which explains the iconographic and moral meaning of the pictura and enlarges upon the implications of the inscriptio. (22) Unless otherwise stated, all illustrated books and single sheet prints here reproduced may be consulted at the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, either at the Cabinet des Estampes or at the Reserve des Imprimes. (23) "Vne femme quoy qu'elle face / En reigle ne veult estre mise, / Elle desire estre en espace / Sans estre a personne submise / Soit en la rue ou en l'eglise / Elle est aussy sotte & volaige / Querant liberte & franchise / Que le petit oyseau ramaige. // Les femmes sans toutes blasmer, / Sont a garder assez fascheuses / Quand sont subiectes a aymer, / Et trenchent trop des precieuses / Ie le dy pour les vicieuses, / Les bonnes ie ne vaulx taxer / Qui font de l'honneur curieuses / Au faict, au dict, & Au penser. // Les tendres & ieunes pucelles, / Ce sont petis oyseaulx volans. / Car ilz ont vne couple d'aelles / Qui les portent es premiers ans / En deduyctz & esbatz plaisans, / L'une est la chair aymant liesse / Qui vole en la ville & aux champs,/ Et l'aultre c'est sotte ieunesse" (Corrozet, emblem n. 80). (24) Kelley, 89. On the consolidation of the bourgeois domestic norm, see also Boxer & Quataert; Ferguson; Flandrin; Jordan; M. King; Maclean, 1980; and Merchant. For a discussion of the literary and iconographic extensions of this ideal, see Lazard; Matthews Grieco, 1989 and 1991; Russel (25) Matthews Grieco, 1991, chap. 1. On the misogynist bias of emblem books, see also Leach, 83-98. (26) Matthews Grieco, 1982, 3: 535-36, tables 6a and 6b. (27) This table is adapted from ibid., 536, table 6b. (28) This table is adapted from ibid., 535, table 6a. (29) Notably Delumeau, 1983. (30) A model also shared by a number of women authors of her day, not the least of whom Marguerite de Navarre, Antoine Heroet, and Louise Labe. On the "female voice" in France froni Christine de Pisan to Marie de Gournay, see Albistur and Armogathe, chaps. 2-5; Richardson; Rigolot and Read; Berriot-Salvadore, 1983 and 1990. (31) Matthews Grieco, 1982, 534, table 5c. The maximum number of feminine representations (44.5%) is to be found in Aneau. (32) On the ramifications of this argument, see Angenot; Auber; Richardson; Maclean, 1980. (33) Saint Paul, 1 Cor. 7 and 11. On the continuing endorsement of this gendered concept in late medieval and Renaissance thought, see Albistur and Armogithe, chaps. 1 and 2; Aubert; Bieler; Delumeau, 1978, chap. 10; Flandrin, chaps. 2 and 3; Maclen, 1980; and Merchant.. passim. (34) On this vision of the female body, see Berriot-Aalvadore, 1979; Gelis and Merchant, passini. This notion was to continue to condition medical practice throughout the Ancient Regime. Sec J.-P. Peter. (35) For a review of this attitude, see Aubert, passim; Maclean, 1980, chap. 2; and Delumeau, 1978, chap. 10. (36) Philippe Galle's etching Gratia Dei belongs to a little-known collection of allegorical pictures illustrating couplets written by Corneille Kilian (also known as Cornelis van Kiel and Cornelius Kilianus), published under the title Prosopographia (Antwerp?, c. 1590). This modest collection antedates the famous Iconologia of Cesare Ripa (first illustrated edition Rome, 1603) and was created for much the same purpose, i.e. to furnish an allegorical "dictionary" for both writers and artists. If the Prosopographia is of Catholic inspiration, however, Protestant emblem authors found it equally easy to use a female figure to personify religion. Theodore de Beze, for example, represents Religion by a woman leaning against a cross from which hangs a bridle. She stands upoll a skeleton, holding a book in her hand (Quanrante quatre emblemes chrestiens, no. 39). (37) The popularity of this representation of fertile and doting motherhood increases in the course of the sixteeinth century. Originally imported from Italy, it reflects both a secular valorization of materility and a growing ideological emphasis on maternal duties and sentiment. This personification was especially popular with Protestatit engravers who needed a substitute vehicle for the familial values usually represented by the Virgin and Child. (38) The Spartan Venus or ideal housewife appears at least once ill every humianist collection of emblems published before 1570. According to Jean de Marconville, "Phidias statuaire fist l'effigie de Venus au Elienses, de telle sorte & representation qu'elle marchoit dessus une tortue, denotant par cela que c'est l'estat d'une femme que de garder la maison sans courir ca et id. Aussi que la femme doit sur toutes choses garder silence & ne parler iamais qu'avec son mary, ou par le conge & consentement d'iceluy" (fol. 79). On the many iconographic variants of this topos, see Matthews Grieco, 1991, chap. 2. (39) Georgette de Montenay's marriage to Guyon de Gout, her upbringing, educatioli. And status, see Labrousse, 362-402, and Reynolds-Cornell, 373-86. (40) The use of the Wise Virgin as a prototype for the godly woman is a common topos in Protestant prints. See J. N. King, 41 and passim. (41) On this role, see Kelley, chap. 2; Kelso, passim; Power, chap. I. (42) Both Marguerite de Navarre and her daughter Jeanne d'Albret set important examples. On the role played by women in the Protestant Reformation in France, see Bainton; Berriot-Salvadore, 1990, pt. 4; Bridenthal, chap. 8; Davis, 1976, chap. 3; Labalme, chap. 6; Roelker, 1968, 152, and 1972. (43) cf. the woodcut attributed to Pierre Eskrich, "Filles doibuent estre gardees" in A. Alciati, 1549, 44. Here Minerva is not represented standing on top of a dragon, but rather beside one, in front of a circular temple. The accompanying verses read: "C'est l'effigie a la vierge Pallas / Et son Dragon mis a ses piedz a bas / D. Tel aninial, Pourquoy ha Ia Deesse?/ R.(Des lieu sacrez, & temples la garde est ce.) / Les vierges fault garder diligemment / Car amour tend les rhetz incessammment." (44) "Bien que de la vertu maint obstacle s'approche, / Elle pourtant n'a point ses dessens destournez: / D'aucun object facheux ne sont ses pas bornez: / Mais se trace un chemin dans la solide roche. . . . / Aussi faut-il oser; / genereusement / par le fer, & le feu, la penie, & le tourment / S'aquerir vertueux une chose divine" (Boissard, 42-43). (45) On the limits of the military maiden as a behavioral model, see Maclean, I977; and Shepherd, passim. Not only do Boissard's Emblemes latins reject de Montenay's feminist iconography, but they also reverse the values she attributes to the sexes, reverting back to the standards of the humanist emblem tradition. In Boissard's collection of emblems, 38% of the representations of women are positive as opposed to 57% negative. Predictably, it is men who have the better role: 47% of male representations are positive as opposed to only 28% negative and 11% neutral. (46) On the triumph of this ideal, see Kelley, chap. 2 Lazard, chap. 3; and supra n. (47) Only nine out of the one hundred Emblesmes ou devises chrestiennes represent women. Five are positive (nos. 1, 4, 6, 51, 59, 60) and four are negative (nos. 22, 25, 68, 71). All nine are reproduced in this article. (48) "Je deteste la lumiere, & me diffie de Dieu: ayant tant seulement tout mon espoir appuy sur mon argent." Another example is an allegory of Avaritia by Leon Davent (Fontaineblcau, 1547). (49) Matthews Grieco, 199 1, 281-99 and 1986, 195-222. Farces, fabliaux, plays, and nouvelles also tend to associate women with deception (Lazard, passim). Cesare Ripa's Iconologia (1593, first illustrated edition 1603) represents Hypocrisy as a nun, prayer book and rosary in hand, ostentatiously giving alms to a beggar in order to obtain fame and glory in this world (Ripa, 197-98, I would like to thank Gabriella Zarri for this reference). (50) Representations of Lussuria as a woman who imprisons men are frequent in sixteenth-century prints. See, for example, "Des moeurs galantes" in Sebastian Brant's Nef des fours (all editions) as well as an allegory of Lussuria by Leon Davent (Fontainebleau, 1547). (51) Matthews Grieco, 1986. (52) A breakdown of de Bry's symbols is given in the French subscriptio of Mille douleurs ensuyent Volupte: "Le visage en est beau; toutesfois eshonte: / L'allure en est superbe, inconstante, & legere: / Les deux aisles la font mobile & passagere: / Et gardent qu'elle n'a son sejour arreste. // Telle est artistement peinte la Volupte; / Dont l'infame pouvoir noz sens troublez atterre; / Peste des bons esprints, des vices nourriciere; / Amorce de tous maux; source d'impiete. // Sa nasse a l'ouverture aggreablement belle; / Riche de mille fleurs: mais dedans elle cele / Le vergotigneux deffaut, la honte, & la langeur. // Nul ne glisse dedans, qui de ces maux s'exempte: / Nul n'est d'elle appaste, qui quand & quand ne sente / De son glaive meurtrier l'homocide rigeur" (84-85). (53) As is pointed out in an introductory poem dedicated to "Mademoiselle Georgette de Montenay, Autheur du Livre," her accomplishment is all the more praiseworthy insofar as she has been able to avoid the secular pitfalls of the "embleme ancien": "Il [l'Eternel] a voulu & veut, cent emblemes Chrestiens / Estre mis en lumiere: tu les peux dire tiens. / Tiens, ie di, pour ce que l'invention est tienne: / Laquelle, en les lisant, on cognoistra Chrestienne: / En cela plus louable, & aussi l'inuenteur, / Que non du fabuleux & la fable & l'auteur, / comme l'on veit iadis a l'embleme ancien, / Duquel & la figure & les sens n'auoit rien / De Chrestien dedans soy . . ." (fol. 7v). (54) On the importance of the goddess Fortuna in the Renaissance world-view see Delumeau 1983, 172-89; Kirchner, passim; Matthews Grieco, 1982, chap. 5; Pitkin, chap. 6. (55) Such as in another of Boissard's emblems: de Dieu vient le scavoir des effets de a nature (18-19) where two men of learning, dressed in Greco-Roman attire, contemplate a polymast mother-nature caryatid (the Artemis of Epheseus). (56) A similar model was also proposed by a number of sixteenth-century women authors (see supra n. 30). It is interesting to note here Georgette de Montenay's relevance with respect to current trends in women's studies. If today the notion of inferiority/ superiority no longer dominates gender relations, that of dichotomy, which de Montenay also refuses, is still an issue in theoretical writings on women's studies. On this subject, see Bock, 1989. (57) Albistur and Armogathe, chaps. 5-8; Boxer and Quataert, 19-52 and 95-I35; Bridenthal, chaps. 10-11; Kelley, chap. 4. (58) Reynolds-cornell, 1987; Roelker, 1968, passim. (59) Such as Etienne Delaune's allegorical figures representing the Arts and Sciences (Paris/Strasbourg, 1557-80). (60) Another example is to be found at the Bibliothbque Nationale in Paris (ms. Fr. 1178). (61) Pisan, 3, 10-11. (62) On the growing chorus of "different" female voices see supra nn. 30 and 56. Such dissidence was hardly restricted to women writers, as is demonstrated by Merry Wiesner's study of sixteenth-century Germany, "Women's Defense of Their Public Role" (Rose, 1-28), and by Natalie Zemon Davis in two landmark essays, "City Women and Religious Change" and "Women on Top" (Davis,


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Author:Grieco, Sara F. Matthews
Publication:Renaissance Quarterly
Article Type:Biography
Date:Dec 22, 1994
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