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Palazzo Schifanoia
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Carl Lavoie

Joined: Wed Feb 25th, 2009
Location: Canada
Posts: 215
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 Posted: Sun May 2nd, 2010 04:40 am
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The Art historian Aby Warburg gave a lecture, back in 1922, at a congress held at Rome, on a study he has made of the eerie frescoes in the Palazzo Schifanoja of Ferrare.

According to him, the key to ‘read’ them is astrology. Did someone of the forum have read this paper?



I was wondering if, in his argumentation, he refers in a passage to ‘Terrestrial Astronomy’ also (i.e. alchemy, not Kelly’s work).


Anyway, here are these wonderfully suggestive frescoes, with some detailed views, from the ‘months’ of March through September (links from the red block, at the bottom of this page):



P.S.: I am not suggesting, by the way, that the presence of a Vulcan or a Mercury in a composition warrants for an alchemical interpretation. Actually, I was quite unconvinced recently by the contribution of J. Wamberg, “A Stone and Yet Not a Stone: Alchemical Themes in North Italian Quattrocentro Landscape Imagery” (in Art & Alchemy, Jacob Wamberg (ed.), Copenhagen, 2006, pp. 41-81), in which, for example, while I saw a burial scene, with a coffin lowered by a winch close to a Calvary, this title-woodcut apparently depicts “a mining shaft around which two working monks swing their mattocks.” (p.57; he add, though, in an end-note: “I have not had the opportunity to see Palz’s work and thus can only hypothesize about the significance of the woodcut.”)

Last edited on Mon May 3rd, 2010 04:25 am by Carl Lavoie

Neil J Mann

Joined: Thu Feb 14th, 2008
Posts: 15
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 Posted: Thu Jul 22nd, 2010 03:00 pm
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Warburg's "Italian Art and International Astrology in the Palazzo Schifanoia in Ferrara" dates from 1912 and is collected in several volumes in both German and English translation, including: 
German Essays on Art History
, ed. Gert Schiff (New York: Continuum, 1988);
The renewal of pagan antiquity: contributions to the cultural history of the European Renaissance
,  intro. Kurt W. Forster; trans. David Britt (Los Angeles, CA: Getty Research Institute for the History of Art and the Humanities, 1999) -- original Erneuerung der heidnischen Antike;
Ausgewählte Schriften und Würdigungen
, ed. Dieter Wuttke with Carl Georg Heise (Baden-Baden: Valenti Koerner, 1979);

A pdf version is available on-line at the following site:

However, it doesn't refer to alchemy in any real way.

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