Another "Game of Prints"

Below is an illustration of a real pageant car from 1616 Stuttgart. Here is some background:
Allegorical entertainments during festivities held in Stuttgart in 1616 by Duke Johann Friedrich of Württemberg on the occasion of his son's baptism. Princely festivities with tournaments and carnival-like parades with imaginative tableaux served a ceremonial function and were attended by numerous invited guests from other princely courts. The festivities at Stuttgart lasted for eight days and resulted in a publication of 77 plates, most of them done by the engraver Matthæus Merian, who later became famous as a publisher of topographical works. It was published in 1616 by the artist Esaias van Hulsen with the title Repræsentatio der furstlichen Aufzug und Ritterspiel. (Allegorical Entertainment)
My speculative reading of this image is based on Apuleius' tale of Cupid and Psyche. It shows a Triumph of Venus. Rather than being naked, Venus is clothed in a leafy gown, presumably because a real person is being depicted and that is how she appeared in the pageant. Venus' triumphal car is pulled by swans across water. The musicians are part of the tale in which Cupid seduces Psyche. Cupid is shown as Venus' captive, being punished for his betrayal of her instructions re Psyche. The motto on the covered figure would be translated as "Cupid's sleeping Psyche". Cupid was to prick Psyche with his arrow while she slept. Psyche is covered from head to toe so that her beauty does not offend the vain Venus. That offense, being more beautiful than Venus, was the starting point of the story.

The book from which it was taken illustrates that 1616 pageant in great detail. There are several other potentially interesting allegorical subjects depicted, but I don't know of a detailed description of the whole event nor of this image in particular.

Repræsentatio der furstlichen Aufzug und Ritterspiel ... -geom-2f-1

I post this as another "Game of Prints" because the reading above is just my interpretation. It seems likely that others would come to different conclusions as to the translation as well as the source and meaning of the allegory. Most folks here have more knowledge of classical subjects than I do, and I don't even know Latin, so this is naturally suspect. (For example, while Anima is the Latin for Psyche, it's already been suggested to me that this is an inappropriate reading, that even in a Latin motto the name Psyche would be used.) Any suggestions? Some basic identifications need to be made, including not only the figures I have attempted but also the three winged figures and their attributes.

In any case, it is another interesting allegorical use of the Hanged Man motif outside of Tarot.

Best regards,
We are either dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants, or we are just dwarfs.

Re: Another "Game of Prints"

This is an exceptional image. Thanks to Michael for sharing it!

I think that the reference to Apuleius is very likely to be relevant: in that tale, Venus is definitely betrayed by Cupid who falls in love with Psyche and does not punish her as ordered by the goddess. Still I find strange that, if the hidden character is Psyche, she is called Anima on the sign: Apuleius Latin text calls the two main characters Cupidus and Psyche. But I have no better interpretation to propose.
I also have no ideas about the meaning of the crowned winged figures.

I think the general context of the scene might be based, among other things, on Apuleius Metamorphoses IV,31, at the beginning of the tale of Cupidus and Psyche:
Apuleius wrote:"I pray thee," she [Venus] said, "give thy mother a full revenge. Let this maid [Psyche] become the slave of an unworthy love." Then, embracing him [Cupid] closely, she departed to the shore and took her throne upon the crest of the wave. And lo! at her unuttered will, her ocean-servants are in waiting: the daughters of Nereus are there singing their song, and Portunus, and Salacia, and the tiny charioteer of the dolphin, with a host of Tritons leaping through the billows. And one blows softly through his sounding sea-shell, another spreads a silken web against the sun, a third presents the mirror to the eyes of his mistress, while the others swim side by side below, drawing her chariot. Such was the escort of Venus as she went upon the sea.
Sleep also plays an important role in the tale. Possibly the two most commonly represented scenes present one of the two main characters sleeping:

* Psyche looks at his "invisible" lover while he is asleep, transgressing his prohibition, and accidentally awakes him V,32
* Cupid wakes Psyche from the magical sleep in which she fell after opening the vase she had received in the underworld VI,21

A complete translation of the tale is availble in Marius the Epicurean by Walter Horatio Pater (unluckily there are no references to the chapters of the Latin original).


Re: Another "Game of Prints"

Here's a "snippet view" that looks promising, from a book called Stuttgarter Hoffeste: Texte und Materialien zur höfischen Repräsentation im frühen 17. Jahrhundert, eds. Ludwig Krapf,Christian Wagenknecht,Georg Rodolf Weckherlin (Max Niemeyer Verlag, 1979). It seems to contain a bilingual (facing page) contemporary description of the 1616 pageant, although the key phrase differs - "Dormiens Immortalis Anima Cupidinis"
Two faire winged angells did follow: their avengefull hands, provided of glittering swords, brought on Cupids his soule within a darke clowd, marked with these words: DORMIENS IMMORTALIS ANIMA CUPIDINIS ... pidinis%22

Bamber Gascoigne, in World Theatre, An Illustrated History (1968), alludes to this and offers the translation "The Sleeping Spirit of Love." ... pidinis%22


Re: Another "Game of Prints"

At the end of the tale, Psyche opens the box she found in the underworld, hoping to find in it some of the beauty of the gods. Apuleius describes the scene in this way (VI, 21):

"Nec quicquam ibi rerum nec formonsitas ulla, sed infernus somnus ac vere Stygius, qui statim coperculo relevatus invadit eam crassaque soporis nebula cunctis eius membris perfunditur et in ipso vestigio ipsaque semita conlapsam possidet."

I modified the "Marius the Epicurean" translation in order to make more literal:

"But [inside the box] there was nothing, no beauty, but an infernal sleep from the Styx. As soon as the lid was lifted, sleep invaded her and a thick cloud of sleepiness coated all her limbs and took hold of her as she fell in the path."

I think that the "thick cloud" (crassa nebula) in Apuleius could well correspond to the "darke clowd" in the fragment quoted by Ross.


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests