Spencer Museum of Art The University of Kansas

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Le imprese illvstri, con esponsitioni...
  • Girolamo Ruscelli
  • Le imprese illvstri, con esponsitioni..., 1572
  • Where object was made: Venice, Italy
  • Not on display
  • EL2012.035
  • Loan: Not in the Spencer's collection
Label Text

Exhibition Label:
"Giorgio Vasari and Court Culture in Late Renaissance Italy," Sep-2012, Sally Cornelison and Susan Earle
An impresa is an elaborate heraldic device that usually holds a symbolic value for the family or individual represented. These were often commissioned by aristocrats, or sometimes designed by the noble individuals themselves in order to demonstrate their skill. Ruscelli’s book is a collection of imprese created for illustrious figures including popes, kings, and emperors alongside noble Italian men and women. The page on display shows the impresa of Ersilia Cortese, who commissioned a Christ Carrying the Cross from Vasari of which the panel at the Spencer Museum is likely a reduced-scale copy. Cortese apparently designed the impresa herself, and Ruscelli remarks that the image of the burning house flanked by the virtues Hope and Faith reflected the turbulent state of affairs for Cortese in Rome after Pope Paul IV, an enemy of her deceased husband’s family, took office in 1555. Her Latin motto, derived from a Seneca play, reads: “Wealth does not mind.”