Breaking the Renaissance Code (4 stars)

Exhibition exploring emblems, taking place at The Hunterian Gallery, Glasgow, until Tue 4 Oct

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Breaking the Renaissance Code

Depending on whether you are a critic or an avid fan of the bestselling Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown both heralded and slew the art of emblematic thinking. This small yet punchy exhibition puts examples of Dürer, Rembrandt and Holbein’s use of symbolic referencing alongside artists such as Hervé Télémaque, Ronald Kitaj and Alasdair Gray. But it is the original emblem books first printed in 1531 that sit like precious jewels among modern versions of the same.

Today advertising is the emblematics of the modern world. The viewer is lured in to relate the slogan to the picture, and the need for the product replaces the moral message of the historical emblem. Included in the show is a fitting example of Britain’s oldest brand Tate & Lyle Syrup. Unchanged since 1885 the label sports the emblem of a dead lion with Biblical motto – ‘out of the strong came forth sweetness.’ Instrumental in setting up the Tate Gallery in London, English sugar merchant and philanthropist Sir Henry Tate’s legacy is today a branded enterprise in itself.

Closer inspection will reveal intriguing connections.

The Hunterian Gallery, Glasgow, until Tue 4 Oct.

Breaking the Renaissance Code

  • 4 stars

An exhibition of precious emblem books together with prints, drawings and paintings from the university's collections. Emblem books were developed in the 16th century and contain often beautiful symbolic pictures and stories that are decipherable only by those who understand the codes at work. Have a go at figuring them…

Breaking the Renaissance Code: Speaking Pictures

  • 4 stars

A gallery talk by Professor Mike Bath, illustrating aspects of the Breaking the Renaissance Code exhibition.

Breaking the Renaissance Code: Emblems in Art

  • 4 stars

Gallery talk by Peter Black, one of the Gallery's curators.

Breaking the Renaissance Code: Old Books and Johnny Depp

  • 4 stars

Gallery talk illustrating the Hunterian's current exhibition of emblem books: presumably Dr Billy Grove will explain the connection to the Depper.

Breaking the Renaissance Code: The European Emblem

  • 4 stars

Gallery talk by Professor Alison Adams, Director of Emblem Studies at Glasgow Uni's School of Modern Languages and Cultures.

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