This article examines the protean nature of ingegno in Renaissance England. Beginning with dictionary definitions and period translations, it traces the semantics of ingegno in writings by Haydocke, Hilliard, Sidney, Harington, and Dee, and in images by Gheeraerts the elder and Hilliard. The term’s semantic elasticity carried over into English, changing shape to denote variously “wit”, “inborn talent”, “sharpness”, “swiftness”, “nobility”, “freedom”, and “ingenuity”. The article concludes by considering the socio-economics of ingenuity, and how the slippage between “ingenious” and “ingenuous” speaks to a newly emerging understanding of the liberal status of the artist and his craft.
It has long been known that Elizabethan and Jacobean writers had difficulty comprehending, and especially translating, the terms of Italian art criticism. Richard Haydocke’s translation of Giovanni Paolo Lomazzo’s Trattato dell’arte de la pittura, scoltura, et architettura (1584/5)—A tracte containing the artes of curious paintinge, carvinge and buildinge (1598)—is often singled out as a potent example of such difficulties. As Lucy Gent noted pithily, “Where Lomazzo writes about ‘arte disegnatrice’, Haydocke is floored.”1 But while the English response to a word/concept such as disegno has attracted considerable scholarly attention, the reception of a key theme in Italian Renaissance writings on the arts—ingegno—has been largely neglected.2 This essay explores the fortunes of ingegno in England, particularly in relation to Haydocke’s influential book and the writings of his acquaintance, the limner Nicholas Hilliard.
The semantics of 'ingegno'DOI
Deriving from the Latin ingenium, ingegno is a term that became semantically inflated over the course of the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries in Italy, in particular in writings about faculty psychology and the arts.3 The first dictionary definition in English is John Florio’s in A worlde of wordes (1598), in which the adjective ingegnóso is rendered as “wittie, wilie, ingenious, subtile, wise, cunning, craftie, full of inuention”.4 Florio’s ingegno embraces qualities that had started to attach to ingenium over the course of the sixteenth century but which had previously been lexically distinct from it, such as “subtlety” (subtilitas), “cunning” (sollertia), and even “wisdom” (sapientia). Notably, the first translation he gives is “wittie”, reflecting the widespread use in English of “wit” to denote the various properties of ingenium.5 Indeed, this is Haydocke’s most frequent translation of Lomazzo’s ingegno, such as the “excellency of . . . wit” required of the poet, or the “fineness of . . . wit” exhibited by Lomazzo’s master Gaudenzio Ferrari in his painting of cangianti colours.6DOI
Wit, ingenium, and ingegno could all mean generically “natural disposition” or the innate talents with which one is born. These talents may be brought to perfection and utility through teaching and diligence, neatly summarized in the popular mottoes ars et ingenium and ingenium et labor.7 Lomazzo invokes this “natural ability” sense of ingegno in the preface to his treatise, where, in a customary apology for deficiency, he writes that by his “debil ingegno” (aptly rendered by Haydocke as “as much as in me lay”), he has gathered together the rules of the “science of painting”.8 Yet ingegno could also denote special talent. In particular, when mobilized by or on behalf of artists it could refer to the creative potency necessary to imagine and invent in a way that cannot be taught, and which thus raises the possessor of ingegno above their less gifted peers.DOI
Italian and English dictionary definitions capture some of these senses. For example, the Vocabolario degli Accademici della Crusca (1612) defines ingegno as “Acutezza d’inventare, e ghiribizzare, che che sia, senza maestro, o avvertitore” (“Sharpness in inventing and fantasizing whatsoever, without a teacher or prompter”).9 Lomazzo grants this capacity to the “ingenious painter”, who can “imagine of himself” a variety of postures and expressions.10 Crucially, these interpretations place ingegno within the realm of the imagination—especially, in La Crusca’s ghiribizzare, with the caprices of fancy—while distancing it from commonplace associations of ingenium with teachability or models. This implies not only that ingegno is an innate quality but also that it operates without or beyond rules. Moreover, the fact that it needs no prompting connects it to spontaneity and quickness.
Quick and pregnant witDOI
DOI This is one of the key senses we find in Cesare Ripa’s popular handbook of iconography: the Iconologia, in which “Ingegno is that potency of spirit which by nature inclines a man to be quick, able in all the sciences” (fig. 1).11 Such a definition reflects period celebrations of visual artists who work in a rapid yet masterful way, underpinning also the increasing value of the sketch—sometimes referred to in Italian as a ghiribizzo—as the direct and immediate manifestation of an artist’s idea.12 In this sense, ingegno was related to disegno, which by the second half of the sixteenth century had become (at least in the hands of academicians such as Giorgio Vasari and Federico Zuccaro) the means of explaining the connection between a metaphysical idea, the artist’s mental creation in his intellectual faculties, and its subsequent manifestation through the skilful workings of the hand.13DOI
Despite the evident confusion about disegno in England around 1600, something of this kind is at work in Sir John Harington’s anecdote about Nicholas Hilliard (see fig. 2), published in his 1591 translation of Ariosto (which Haydocke had plundered for his translation of Lomazzo):
My selfe have seen him, in white and blacke in foure lynes only, set downe the feature of the Queenes Majesties countenaunce; that it was eve[r] thereby to be knowne; and he is so perfect therein . . . that he ca[n] set it downe by the Idea that he hath, without any patterne.14
Harington’s observation that Hilliard could work “without any patterne” presumably alludes to the widespread practice of using a “face pattern” in the making of portraits, a topic to which we shall return.15 Yet he may also be trading on the conventions of Aristotelian faculty psychology in which mental pictures (i.e. patterns) are impressed on the memory. Certainly, his comments are reminiscent of Sir Philip Sidney’s Platonic notion of the fore-conceit in The Defence of Poesy, while conveying some of the key qualities of ingegno: sharpness, quickness, and (although this is less common) economical elegance.16
We have already encountered the sense of quickness in Ripa, found also in the first English dictionary proper: Robert Cawdrey’s A table alphabeticall (1604), in which “ingenious” is defined as “wittie, quicke witted”.17 Sharpness—a visual property of the type of linear image Harington describes, but also a mental quality—pervades translations from or into Latin, such as Thomas Thomas’s 1587 translation of perargutus as “Very subtile, ingenious, wittie, and captious”.18 Similarly, in one of his annotations to Daniele Barbaro’s edition of Vitruvius (I Dieci Libri dell’Architettura di M. Vitruvio, 1567), Inigo Jones translated “Et questo non solo per dottrina, ma per acutezza d’ingegno si puo fare” as “no rule to teach this but by sharpenes of witt.”19 We may note that Sidney, whom Hilliard knew, described “wit” in precisely these terms in his Defence of Poesy, referring to the “point of man’s wit”. Here Sidney deploys the imagery of pen, needle, and sword, in a play on the intimate but oblique relationship of “stylus” to “style”, linking mental acuity with sharp instrument and finessed (but pointed) manner.20 Harington’s comments should be placed within this field of discourse, and he was clearly impressed by the economy of Hilliard’s likeness, created using a refined implement in “foure lynes only”. We might tentatively relate this to the association of ingenuity with both pithiness and with salt, specifically the “Attic salt” of an elegant and succinct turn of phrase, which by 1623 had led Cockeram to include “Atticke” as a definition of “witty”, alongside “ingenious” and “pregnant”.21DOI
The association of Hilliard with “Attic grace” is not implausible, given that William Scott compares the limner favourably to Apelles in his Model of Poesy.22 The notion that the limner would have been thought of as pregnant is especially apt. Haydocke deploys this term when translating Lomazzo’s account of the “first inventor of Plasticke” (i.e. modelling), Prometheus, described as a man of “a most pregnant wit and sounde wisedome”.23 This returns us to one of Florio’s translations—“full of invention”—suggesting that the ingegnóso is both ready and replete with wit; perhaps, pace Harington and Sidney, full of ideas or fore-conceits.24DOI
The language of “pregnancy” to denote the intellectual quickness and readiness of “wit” was widespread in the period. As early as 1530 John Palsgrave—an acquaintance of Thomas More and Erasmus—had translated the French “empraignant” as “Quycke/ pregnant of wytte”, while for John Rider in 1589 the Latin “pregnans” meant “A pregnant, or sharpe witte. Acre ingenium. Acutum ingenium.”25 Haydocke’s use of the word is especially appropriate given its connotations of birthing, for Prometheus, we are told, “formed men’s images of earth, adding a certaine artificiall motion unto them, so that they seemed to be indued with spirit and life”. Literally and figuratively, Prometheus is equated with the sort of inspiration sometimes appended to ingegno in the Neoplatonic tradition of poetic fury.26 Indeed, we see him in the act of “inspiring” in the frontispiece to the Tracte, accompanied by other representatives of the “artes of curious paintinge, carvinge and buildinge”: Juno, Pallas, and Daedalus (fig. 3).27 More could be said about the implicit connection here between curiosity and ingenuity, but at the very least we may note that by this date Daedalus was synonymous with ingenuity, as the entry for “Dédalo” in the Perceval–Minsheu Spanish–English dictionary of 1599 shows: “Dedalus, a proper name signifying ingenious.”28
Ingenious/ingenuous: the birth of the liberal artistDOI
The equation of pregnancy and birthing with ingenuity is part metaphorical, part the result of etymological confusion, since throughout the sixteenth century the Latin ingenium mingled liberally with the word ingenuus, meaning “freeborn” or “noble”. The conflation of these terms, stemming in part from the “natural” aspect of ingenium, is particularly pronounced in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English, so much so that by 1676 Elisha Coles could state in his Dictionary that “Ingenious and Ingenuous, are too often confounded.”29 To a certain extent this slippage is explainable in social terms: in the hierarchical society of early modern England it was natural to ascribe qualities of superior intelligence and ability to the nobility, and the importance of this relationship for the standing of the liberal arts in the Renaissance is well known. For our purposes, we should observe chiefly its significance for the justification of drawing (and therefore painting, which rests upon it) as a liberal art. The introduction of this idea into England via Italy, especially through Thomas Hoby’s translation of Castiglione’s Il cortegiano, has been thoroughly examined and need not be rehearsed, other than to note that it is given full vent by Lomazzo, who in a typical passage asserts: “For to saye the trueth, what Prince or ingenuous man [huomo libero] is there, which taketh not delight, with his pencell to imitate God in Nature, so farre foorth as he is able?”30 With this in mind it is surely no accident that Haydocke, writing for a socially elite audience that required convincing about the legitimacy of the visual arts, addressed his paratextual letter to “the ingenuous reader”.DOI
Let us investigate further the nature of the ingenious–ingenuous nexus in Elizabethan and Jacobean England by considering the economics and aesthetics of freedom, specifically in relation to the status and self-presentation of the visual artist. We will focus especially on Hilliard, singled out by Haydocke as a representative of English ingegno; that is, a native painter whose ability rivals those artists cited by Lomazzo as exemplary, such as Michelangelo, Raphael, Titian, and Dürer. As Haydocke explains:
Nicholas Hilliards hand, so much admired amongst strangers [may] strive for a comparison with the milde spirit of the late worldes-wonder Raphaell Urbine; for . . . his perfectio[n] in ingenuous Illuminating or Limning . . . [is] so extraordinarie, that when I devised with myselfe the best argument to set it forth, I found none better, then to perswade him to doe it himselfe . . . and by mee promiseth you a treatise of his owne Practice that way, with all convenient speede.31DOI
Some seventy years ago, John Pope-Hennessy argued that the treatise in question—the incomplete and only posthumously published Arte of Limning (ca. 1598–1603)—is shot through with the influence of Lomazzo’s treatise in Haydocke’s translation.32 This is evident not least in Hilliard’s assertion that limning is “a kind of gentle painting, of less subjection than any other”, in part by virtue of its ease, cleanliness, and secrecy.33 But Hilliard is at pains to show that this freedom comes at a price. As he explains:
[Portrait limning] is for the service of noble persons very meet . . . . And this is a work which of necessity requireth the party’s own presence for the most part of the time, and so it is convenient that they be gentlemen of good parts and ingenuity, either of ability, or made by prince’s fee able so to themselves as to give such seemly attendance on princes as shall not offend their royal presence.34
Here the introduction of a “prince’s fee” into the equation injects a note of tension into the ingenious–ingenuous relationship. Hilliard raises this delicate matter elsewhere in his treatise, where, reflecting on the glories of antiquity, he complains: “Like as one good workman then made another, so one botcher nowadays maketh many, and they increase so fast that good workmen give over to use their best skill, for all men carry one price.”35 This is an echo of Haydocke’s explanation as to why he sought to “increase the knowledge of the Arte [of painting]” by publishing his translation of the Trattato:
First the Buyer refuseth to bestowe anie greate price on a peece of worke, because hee thinkes it is not well done: and the Workemans answere is, that he therefore neither useth all his skill, nor taketh all the paines that he could, because hee knoweth beforehand the slendernes of his reward.36
Poverty and freedom: the socio-economics of ingenuityDOI
DOI Both Haydocke’s and Hilliard’s statements reflect the very specific situation of the visual arts in Elizabethan England in comparison to the Continent, not least, in Hilliard’s case, the absence of a regular stipend for his services from the Queen.37 Yet they speak also to a more general and widespread concern for the relationship of financial means to creative endeavour, encapsulated in the motto Paupertatem summis ingeniis obesse ne provehantur (“Poverty hinders the greatest wits from advancing”). Widely distributed in emblematic form by Alciati and others, it appears in England both in Geoffrey Whitney’s Choice of Emblemes (1586; fig. 4) and, more elaborately, in Marcus Gheeraerts the elder’s drawing The Unfortunate Painter and his Family (1577; fig. 5).38 Both bear a quotation from Juvenal: “Haud facile emergent quorum Virtutibus obstat res angusta domi” (“With difficulty shall they emerge whose virtues are obstructed by poverty at home”). This alerts us to the proper subject of Gheeraert’s drawing, in which a harassed artist turns from his work—and from Mercury, protector of the arts and financial gain—to attend to his mewling infant, needy wife, and brood of unruly children. Hilliard doubtless knew Whitney’s book and it is not impossible that he had seen the Gheeraerts drawing (although the latter seems to have been intended as a gift abroad). The latter, especially, strikes a chord with his cautionary tale of the indigent and otherwise completely unknown painter, John Bossam:
Nevertheless, if a man be so endued by nature [to be a painter], and live in a time of trouble, and under a savage government wherein arts be not esteemed, and himself but of small means, woe be unto him as unto an untimely birth! For of mine own knowledge it hath made poor men poorer, as among others . . . the most rare English drawer of story works in black and white, John Bossam; one for his skill very worthy to have been Serjeant Painter to any king or emperor. . . . Who, being very poor . . . and growing yet poorer by charge of children etc., gave painting clean over.39
Early modern Englishmen routinely equated the ingenuousness of the freeborn nobility with “open-heartedness”. But Hilliard leaves us in no doubt that the liberal stature of the ingenious painter depends not just on an open heart but also on an open purse. Strikingly, this is a two-way street, extending equally to the “good painter” himself. In a curious diatribe against the “common slander . . . that cunning men are ever unthrifts”, Hilliard offers us a compelling picture of the liberal—in every sense of the word—artist. “Such men”, he says,
are commonly no misers, but liberal above their little degree, knowing how bountiful God hath endued them with skill above others . . . . And oft times when they have performed a rare piece of work (which indeed they cannot afford) they will give it away to some worthy personage for very affection, and to be spoken of. They . . . serve their fancies, having commonly many children if they be married . . . . If a man bring them a rare piece of work they will give more for it than most men of ten times their ability.40
Beyond what this tells us about the economics of ingenuity, two aspects of the passage stand out. The first is Hilliard’s introduction of God-given talent. He refers to this elsewhere in his treatise, equating the divine gift of artisanal cunning with freedom from slavery:
God . . . giveth gentility to divers persons, and raiseth man to reputation by divers means . . . he called Bezaleel and Aholiab by name, and filled them with wisdom, skill and understanding, without any teaching, but only of his own gift and grace received. He taught them Himself to be cunning in all fine and curious work . . . being men before brought up but in slavery and making of bricks in captivity.41
There can be little doubt that this deployment of Bezaleel and Aholiab (the artificers of the Ark and the Temple) derives from Haydocke’s Lomazzo, specifically from the physician John Case’s letter to the reader printed therein. Case names both Bezaleel and Aholiab as “cunning men” and cites Exodus 31 to explain why, having read Haydocke’s translation, he now understands “what Aristotle meant in the sixth book of his Ethics, to call Phidias and Polycletus most wise men”.42DOI
The second significant aspect of Hilliard’s account of the liberal artist is that such men “serve their fancies”. Given the reference to abundant procreation that follows, this is clearly about the licit indulgence of sexual appetite within marriage (which, as per the image by Gheeraerts, literally breeds trouble in the form of needy children). But it pertains also—if we recall some of the definitions of ingegno with which we began—to the free following of imaginative fancy. Does this equate to freedom from rules? After a fashion, since Hilliard, responding to a question from Sir Philip Sidney about the nature of proportion, explains that “our eye is cunning, and is learned without rule by long use.”43 This, too, probably derives from Lomazzo, as we may discern from the important but little known response to Haydocke’s text by Sir Clement Edmondes, in his Observations upon Caesar’s Commentaries (1609):
Lomazzo . . . saith of a skilfull Painter; that being to draw a portraiture of gracefull lineaments, will never stand to take the symmetry by scale, nor marke it out according to rule: but having his judgement habituated by knowledge, and perfected with the varietie of shapes and proportions; his knowledge guideth his eye, and his eye directeth his hand, and his hand followeth both, with such facilitie of cunning, that each of them serve for a rule whereby the true measures of Nature are exactly expressed.44
There is not space here to elaborate further upon this swirl of ideas connecting rules, experience, proportion, and cunning. Let us conclude, then, by glancing at a final aspect of freedom: not from rules, but from utility.
This is at the very heart of Hilliard’s arguments as to why limning is “gentle”: “It tendeth not to common men’s use, either for furnishing of houses, or any patterns for tapestries, or building, or any other work whatsoever.”45 Here we have a painter who worked—or so Harington claimed—“without any pattern”, and whose creations are not intended to be patterns.46 This is a striking inversion of the standard arguments for painting’s worth circulating in learned circles at the time, such as John Dee’s in his account of the “Mechanical Zographer (commonly called the Painter)” in the “Mathematical Preface” to Henry Billingsley’s English translation of Euclid’s Elements:
To what Artificer, is not Picture, a great pleasure and Commoditie? Which of them all, will refuse the Direction and ayde of Picture? The Architect, the Goldsmith, and the Arras Weaver: of Picture, make great account. Our lively Herbals, our portraitures of birdes, beastes, and fishes: and our curious Anatomies, which way, are they most perfectly made, or with most pleasure, of us beholden? Is it not by Picture onely?47
In writing this passage Dee was doubtless thinking of (to use his term) “mechanical” artists, such as the (probable) embroiderer Thomas Trevilian, whose several manuscripts show ample evidence of the sort of copying Dee praises (fig. 6).48 Yet it has not hitherto been recognized that the above passage informed John Case’s letter to Haydocke, mentioned earlier, in which the scholar subtly shifts emphasis to indicate that painting offers not simply a pattern to be replicated, but a model of practice, learning, and (ultimately) ethics. As he explains:
One shaddow of man, one image of his partes, in this [Lomazzo’s] Booke showeth us better use. For if Hippocrates will read an Anatomie, heere-hence he may learne exact and true proportion of humane Bodies; if Dioscorides will make an Herball, here he may have skill to set forth hearbes, plantes, and fruites, in most lively colours. Geometricians heere-hence for Buylding may take their perfect Modelles. Cosmographers may finde good arte to make their Mappes and Tables. Historians cannot heere want a pencell to over-shaddow men’s famous Actes, Persons, and Morall pictures.49
This liberal attitude towards painting is undoubtedly connected to contemporary English poetics concerned with how pictorial and literary mimesis relate to moral exemplars, the best known expression of which is Sidney’s in the Defence. There, Sidney distinguishes “the meaner sort of painters, who counterfeit only such faces as are set before them” from “the more excellent, who having no law but wit” can “paint the outward beauty of virtue”, without ever having seen the paragon concerned.50DOI
Despite their acquaintance, it is perhaps doubtful that Hilliard shared Sidney’s view, not least since he seems obstinately literal in his conviction that “all painting imitateth nature, or the life.”51 But a connection may yet be found in the very topic about which the poet questioned the painter: proportion. Central to Lomazzo’s conception of art, “good proportion” is, according to Hilliard, the “greater part” of beauty: “Whereof our divine part . . . by an admirable instinct of nature judgeth generally.”52 This is the stuff of ingegno: a natural instinct of the liberal artist. Yet strikingly, this aesthetic quality pertains not just to the artist, but also to his creations. As Lomazzo explained: “All the inventions of men carry with them so much the more grace and beauty, by how much the more ingenuously [ingegniosamente] they are proportioned.”53 Thus, ingenuity in Renaissance England was not simply an attribute of the artist, nor was it solely a social bond between him and his patron. Ingenuity had the capacity to be an aesthetic property, an affective quality of the work of art exemplifying the talents of its maker and exciting the curious admiration of the beholder.
In writing this essay I have benefitted from discussions with Gavin Alexander, Lucy Gent, Gordon Higgott, and Sarah Howe. I am grateful to the journal’s anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments.
About the author
Reader in the History of Early Modern Art at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Trinity Hall.
Lucy Gent, Picture and Poetry, 1560–1620: Relations between Literature and the Visual Arts in the English Renaissance (Leamington Spa: J. Hall, 1981), 9. On Haydocke and his translation, see, for example, Karl Josef Höltgen, “Richard Haydocke: Translator, Engraver, Physician”, The Library, 5th ser., vol. 33, no. 1 (1978): 15–32.1
See, for example, Michael Baxandall, “English Disegno”, in England and the Continental Renaissance: Essays in Honour of J. B. Trapp, ed. Edward Chaney and Peter Mack (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 1990), 203–14, and Gent, Picture and Poetry.2
See, for example, Rhodri Lewis, “Francis Bacon and Ingenuity”, Renaissance Quarterly 67, no. 1 (2014): 113–63.3
John Florio, A worlde of wordes (London: Arnold Hatfield for Edward Blount, 1598), 181. Florio’s definition of the noun ingegno is comparable to the adjectival form, although we may note the object sense he offers first: “Ingégno, an engine, a toole, a devise, an artifice, an invention, an implement. Also wit, arte, skill, knowledge, discretion, foresight, fancie, cunning. Also the nature, inclination or disposition of a thing.”4
See C. S. Lewis, Studies in Words (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1960), chap. 4.5
“Che si come al Poeta fà di mestiero ch’insieme con l’eccellenza dell’ingegno habbia certo desiderio & una inclinatione di volontà onde sia mosso à poetare, ilche chiamavano gl’antichi furor d’Apollo, & delle muse” (“For as it is required in a Poet, that besides the excellencie of his witte, he shoulde moreover be furnished with a certaine propension and inclination of will, inciting and mooving him to versifie (which the ancient called the Furie of Apollo and the Muses)”). Giovanni Paolo Lomazzo, Trattato dell’arte de la pittura, scoltura, et architettura (Milan: Gottardo da Ponte, 1584), 108, Richard Haydocke, A tracte containing the artes of curious paintinge, carvinge and buildinge (Oxford: Joseph Barnes, 1598), book 2, 5. “In tutte l’opere sue si scuopre la sottigliezza del suo ingegno in penetrare questa convenienza de’ colori; tanto che non è possibile à fare cangianti più vaghi, più naturali nè meglio accompagnati con l’arte, e co’l disegno” (“In all his [Gaudenzio’s] other workes, wherein he showeth the finenesse of his wit, in pearcing so deepe[l]y into the sweete agreement of colours; that it is impossible for any man to make changeables, more fresh, more naturall, or more agreeable to art”). Lomazzo, Trattato, 201, Haydocke, Tracte, book 3, 111. We know that Haydocke used the 1584 edition of Lomazzo’s treatise for his translation. See Lucy Gent, “Haydocke’s Copy of Lomazzo’s Trattato”, The Library, 6th ser., vol. 1, no. 1 (1979): 78–81.6
See Patricia Emison, Creating the “Divine” Artist: From Dante to Michelangelo (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2004), appendix: “The Historiography of Ingegno”, 321–48.7
“Accioche almeno doppo che non si può persuadere à gl’huomini di questo tempo, che si sforzino d’apprendere tutte queste scienze necessarie (come si è detto) per la pittura, facciano qualche studio in questa mia fatica; percioche vi troveranno raccolto, per quanto si sono potuto stendere le forze del mio debil ingegno, se non tutto almeno parte di quello che è bisogno per riuscire in questa professione di qualche pregio & consideratione” (“To the end that although I cannot perswade men of these our daies to study the perfection of this most necessary science of painting; Yet I mighte drawe them at the least to bestowe some time in this my worke, where they shall finde gathered together (as much as in me lay) if not all, yet surely a great part of that which is necessary to the perfecting thereof”). Lomazzo, Trattato, 12, Haydocke, Tracte, book 1, 8.8
Vocabolario degli Accademici della Crusca (Venice: Giovanni Alberti, 1612), 444. Given this definition it is rather surprising that the definition of ingegno in Baldinucci’s lexicon of art terminology is somewhat generic: “Una certa forza da natura in noi inserta, per ritrovar tutto ciò, che si può con la ragione giudicare” (“A certain force of nature placed within us, for retrieving all things, which may be judged by reason”). Filippo Baldinucci, Vocabolario Toscano dell’arte del disegno (Florence: Santi Franchi, 1681), 76.9
“Con allargar di braccia, spuntar di pancia, inchini, torcimenti, guardi fissi, & altri atti simili che il pittore ingenioso può da se stesso imaginare” (“Throwing abroade the arms, thrusting out the belly, bowinges, turninges, stedfast lookes, &c. which the ingenious Painter will imagine of himselfe”). Lomazzo, Trattato, 167, Haydocke, Tracte, book 2, 70.10
“Ingegno è quella potenza di spirito, che per natura tende l’huomo pronto, capace di tutte quelle scienze”. Cesare Ripa, Iconologia (Siena: Matteo Florimi, 1613), 362.11
See, for example, Giancarlo Maiorino, The Portrait of Eccentricity: Arcimboldo and the Mannerist Grotesque (University Park: Pennsylvania State Univ. Press, 1991), 51 and n. 27; Philip Sohm, Pittoresco: Marco Boschini, his Critics and their Critiques of Painterly Brushwork in Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-century Italy (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1991); and Nicola Suthor, Bravura: Virtuosität und Mutwilligkeit in der Malerei der Frühen Neuzeit (Munich: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 2010). As Gent notes, the idea of the sketch was poorly understood in England for most of the sixteenth century, although by about 1600 it was starting to become less obscure. Gent, Picture and Poetry, 14.12
See, for example, David Summers, Michelangelo and the Language of Art (Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press, 1981), and Robert Williams, Art, Theory, and Culture in Sixteenth-century Italy: From Techne to Metatechne (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1997).13
Ludovico Ariosto, Orlando furioso in English heroicall verse, trans. Sir John Harington (London: Richard Field, 1591), 278. As Haydocke explains in the preface to his book, he relied on Harington for translations of those passages from Ariosto that appear in Lomazzo’s treatise. Haydocke, Tracte, sig. [¶vr].14
For examples of sixteenth-century English works made from (and perhaps used as) face patterns, see Karen Hearn, Dynasties: Painting in Tudor and Jacobean England, 1530–1630 (London: Tate Publishing, 1995), cat. nos. 98 and 102. For discussion of patterns in relation to the portrayal of Elizabeth I, see Roy Strong, Gloriana: The Portraits of Queen Elizabeth I (London: Thames and Hudson, 1987). See also the entries for John Audrey I, George Cable, Hans Eworth, Richard Flint, Peter Geberd, Robert Greenwood, John Knight II, and Thomas Playne in Edward Town, “A Biographical Dictionary of London Painters, 1547–1625”, The Walpole Society 76 (2014).15
For the fore-conceit in Sidney and William Scott see Gavin Alexander, ed., Sidney’s “The Defence of Poesy” and Selected Renaissance Literary Criticism (London: Penguin, 2004), and William Scott, The Model of Poesy, ed. Gavin Alexander (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2013). For faculty psychology in the context of English poetics and visual culture of the period, see Sarah Howe, “‘Our Speaking Picture’: William Scott’s Model of Poesy and the Visual Imagination”, Sidney Journal 33, no. 1 (2015): 29–68, esp. 36.16
Robert Cawdrey, A table alphabeticall (London: James Roberts for Edmund Weaver, 1604), unpaginated.17
Thomas Thomas, Dictionarium linguae Latinae et Anglicanae (London: Richard Boyle, 1587), sig. Vvv.18
See John Newman, “Inigo Jones’s Architectural Education before 1614”, Architectural History 35 (1992): 18–50, 37. I am very grateful to Gordon Higgott for bringing this reference to my attention.19
Alexander, ed., Sidney’s “The Defence of Poesy”, 9. See also, in general, James Elkins, “Style”, in Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press. 8 July 2015, http://www.oxfordartonline.com/subscriber/article/grove/art/T082129.20
Henry Cockeram, The Englishe dictionarie (London: Edmund Weaver, 1623), sig. G4r.21
Scott, Model of Poesy, 17.22
“Prometheus . . . was the first inventor of Plasticke . . . being of a most pregnant wit and sounde wisdome; that he brought the rude and barbarous people to a civile conversation, being the first that formed men’s images of earth, adding a certaine artificiall motion unto them, so that they seemed to be indued with spirit and life: whence afterwardes the Poets tooke occasion to invent such fables as we reade of him” (“Prometeo . . . fu il primo inventore de la plastica . . . era huomo di acutissimo ingegno, et di granprudenza, talche indusse gl’huomini rozzi, & barbari à la vita politica, & fu il primo che formasse le imagini de gl’huomini di terra, facendole con certa sua arte muovere, come se havessero havuto spirito, & vita: onde presero poi i poeti occasione di fingere tante sue favole, quante ne leggiamo”. Haydocke, Tracte, book 1 (Preface), 7, Lomazzo, Trattato, 10. Emphasis mine.23
See also Bullokar’s definition of “pregnant” as “Quickewitted, that will soone conceive”. John Bullokar, An English expositor (London: John Legat, 1616), sig. M4v. We may note the possible connection of these definitions to certain aspects of rhetoric, such as synecdoche, defined by Puttenham as “the figure of quick conceite”. George Puttenham, The arte of English poesie (London: Richard Field, 1589), 162.24
John Palsgrave, Lesclarcissement de la langue francoyse (London: Richard Pynson and John Hawkins, 1530), fol. xciiiv, John Rider, Bibliotheca scholastica (Oxford: Joseph Barnes, 1589), sig. Aa5v.25
On which see, for example, Noel L. Brann, The Debate Over the Origin of Genius During the Italian Renaissance: The Theories of Supernatural Frenzy and Natural Melancholy in Accord and in Conflict on the Threshold of the Scientific Revolution (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2002).26
For a full interpretation of the frontispiece, including Haydocke’s unconventional choice of Juno to represent the art of painting, see Margery Corbett and Ronald Lightbown, The Comely Frontispiece: The Emblematic Title-page in England, 1550–1660 (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1979), 67–78. See also Judith Dundas, “Arachne’s Web: Emblem into Art”, Emblematica 2, no. 1 (1987): 109–37, and Höltgen, “Richard Haydocke”.27
Richard Perceval and John Minsheu, A dictionarie in Spanish and English . . . enlarged . . . by John Minsheu (London: Edmund Bolifant, 1599), 85. Pallas, who appears on the frontispiece in her guise as goddess of crafts and in competition with Arachne, is equally pertinent to ingegno, since on the first page of the Trattato Lomazzo explains how, “in somuch as our bodies being borne naked by Nature, were diversly annoyed by the untemperatenesse of the ayre, it [the Understanding] most ingeniously invented the art of Weaving and Tailery” (“Similmente ancora, percioche i corpi nostri cosi ignudi come erano stati da la natura prodotti erano diversamente offesi da l’intemperie de l’aere; ingeniosamente rirtuovò l’arte del tessere et fabricare le vesti”). Haydocke, Tracte, book 1 (Preface), 1, Lomazzo, Trattato, 1.28
Elisha Coles, An English dictionary (London: Samuel Crouch, 1676), sig. T2r.29
“Plinie calleth it [painting] plainly a Liberal arte; which authority of his may be prooved by reason. For although the Painter cannot attaine to his ende, but by working both with his hand and pencel; yet there is so little paines and labour bestowed in this exercise, that there is no ingenuous man [non ci è huomo libero] in the world, unto whose nature it is not most agreeable and infinitely pleasant. For we read of the French King Francis, the first of that name, that hee oftentimes delighted to handle the pencell, by exercising drawing and painting. The like whereof is reported of divers other Princes, aswell auncient as late. . . . So that in these and the like exercises, nothing is base or Mechanicall but all Noble and ingenuous [libero, & nobile]. For to saye the trueth: what Prince or ingenuous man [huomo libero] is there which taketh not delight, with his pencell to imitate God in Nature, so farre foorth as he is able?” Haydocke, Tracte, book 1, 14, Lomazzo, Trattato, 18–20. On arguments for the liberal status of the visual arts in England in this period, see, for example, Ann Bermingham, Learning to Draw: Studies in the Cultural History of a Polite and Useful Art (New Haven and London: Yale Univ. Press, 2000), chap. 1, and Katherine Coombs, “‘A Kind of Gentle Painting’: Limning in 16th-Century England”, in European Visions: American Voices, ed. Kim Sloan (London: British Museum Press, 2009), 77–84.30
Haydocke, Tracte, sig. [¶vir-v].31
John Pope-Hennessy, “Nicholas Hilliard and Mannerist Art Theory”, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 6 (1943): 89–100.32
Nicholas Hilliard, The Arte of Limning, ed. R. K. R. Thornton and T. G. S. Cain (Manchester: Carcanet, 1992), 43.33
Hilliard, Arte of Limning, 45.34
Hilliard, Arte of Limning, 43.35
Haydocke, Tracte, sig. [¶vv]. See Tarnya Cooper and Maurice Howard, “Introduction: Artists, Patrons and the Context for the Production of Painted Images in Tudor and Jacobean England”, in Tarnya Cooper, Aviva Burnstock, Maurice Howard, and Edward Town, eds., Painting in Britain, 1500–1630: Production, Influences and Patronage (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press and The British Academy, 2015), 4–28 (at 5). This essay provides a useful overview of the current state of the field.36
See, for example. Roy Strong, The English Icon: Elizabethan & Jacobean Portraiture (London and New York: Routledge and Kegan Paul; Pantheon Books, 1969), and Tarnya Cooper, Citizen Portrait: Portrait Painting and the Urban Elite of Jacobean England and Wales (New Haven and London: Yale Univ. Press, 2012).37
See Erin L. Webster, “Marcus Gheeraerts the Elder and the Language of Art: Images with Text in the Elizabethan Renaissance” (PhD diss., Case Western Reserve Univ., 2001), 208–224. On this iconography see also Alexander Marr, “Walther Ryff, Plagiarism and Imitation in Sixteenth-century Germany”, Print Quarterly 31, no. 2 (2014): 131–43.38
Hilliard, Arte of Limning, 47. On Bossam, see Town, “Biographical Dictionary”, 39.39
Hilliard, Arte of Limning, 89. Given the tenor of this passage one cannot help but think that it was motivated by some personal sense of injury on Hilliard’s part.40
Hilliard, Arte of Limning, 45.41
Haydocke, Tracte, sig. *Jr. On Bezaleel as an exemplar of curiosity, see Alexander Marr, “Gentille curiosité: Wonder-working and the Culture of Automata in the Late Renaissance”, in Curiosity and Wonder from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment, ed. R. J. W. Evans and Alexander Marr (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006), 149–70 (at 165).42
Hilliard, Arte of Limning, 63.43
Clement Edmondes, Observations upon Caesar’s Commentaries (London: Matthew Lownes, 1609), 4. On this passage, see Alexander Marr, “‘Curious and Useful Buildings’: The ‘Mathematical Model’ of Sir Clements Edmondes”, Bodleian Library Record 18, no. 2 (2004): 108–49.44
Hilliard, Arte of Limning, 43. This is, in effect, a succinct definition of what Haydocke calls “curious paintinge”.45
We may note a certain tension here between Hilliard’s rhetorical claims for his art (and Harington’s praise of it) and actual practice, since not only did Hilliard effectively rely upon a face pattern for his later portraits of Elizabeth (the famous “mask of youth”), he also made designs to be reproduced in other media, for example for the Queen’s Great Seal (1584; Victoria & Albert Museum). There is, though, a subtle difference between Hilliard’s reliance on a pattern committed to memory and the deployment of a physical face pattern in the reproduction of portraits.46
John Dee, “Mathematical Preface”, in Euclid, The Elements of Geometrie, trans. Henry Billingsley (London: John Daye, 1570), sig. diiv.47
See Thomas Trevilian, The Great Book of Thomas Trevilyan: A Facsimile of the Manuscript in the Wormsley Library, ed. Nicolas Barker (London: Roxburghe Club, 2000), and The Trevelyon Miscellany of 1608: A Facsimile of Folger Shakespeare Library MS V.b.232, ed. Heather Wolfe (Washington, DC: Folger Shakespeare Library, 2007). I am conscious of the irony in setting Trevilian’s “patterns” against the work of Hilliard, especially (as discussed above) his later portraits of Elizabeth. However, there remains a distinction between Hilliard’s mimetic art, rooted in (as he says) “long use” and the memory, and unmediated copying from a two-dimensional model.48
Haydocke, Tracte, sig. *jr.49
Alexander, ed., Sidney’s “The Defence of Poesy”, XXX.50
Hilliard, Arte of Limning, 55. While plainly stated, Hilliard’s meaning here is not completely clear. From the passages that follow it seems he means some sort of combination of drawing from life and the capturing of character in a portrait.51
Hilliard, Arte of Limning, 58.52
Haydocke, Tracte, book 1, 25, Lomazzo, Trattato, 33. On proportion in English poetics of this period, see Gavin Alexander, “Sidney, Scott, and the Proportions of Poetics”, Sidney Journal 33, no. 1 (2015): 7–28.53
Alexander, Gavin. “Sidney, Scott, and the Proportions of Poetics”, Sidney Journal 33, no. 1 (2015): 7–28.
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Coombs, Katherine. “‘A Kind of Gentle Painting’: Limning in 16th-Century England.” In European Visions: American Voices. Ed. Kim Sloan. London: British Museum Press, 2009, 77–84.
Cooper, Tarnya. Citizen Portrait: Portrait Painting and the Urban Elite of Tudor and Jacobean England and Wales. New Haven and London: Yale Univ. Press, 2012.
Cooper, Tarnya, and Maurice Howard, “Introduction: Artists, Patrons and the Context for the Production of Painted Images in Tudor and Jacobean England.” In Painting in Britain, 1500–1630: Production, Influences and Patronage. Ed. Tarnya Cooper, Aviva Burnstock, Maurice Howard, and Edward Town. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press and The British Academy, 2015, 4–28.
Corbett, Margery, and Ronald Lightbown. The Comely Frontispiece: The Emblematic Title-page in England, 1550–1660. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1979.
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Dundas, Judith. “Arachne’s Web: Emblem into Art.” Emblematica 2, no. 1 (1987): 109–37.
Edmondes, Clement. Observations upon Caesar’s Commentaries. London: Matthew Lownes, 1609.
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Hilliard, Nicholas. The Arte of Limning. Ed. R. K. R. Thornton and T. G. S. Cain. Manchester: Carcanet, 1992.
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Perceval, Richard, and John Minsheu. A dictionarie in Spanish and English . . . enlarged . . . by John Minsheu. London: Edmund Bolifant, 1599.
Pope-Hennessy, John. “Nicholas Hilliard and Mannerist Art Theory.” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 6 (1943): 89–100.
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- Alexander Marr
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- Alexander Marr, "Pregnant Wit: ingegno in Renaissance England", British Art Studies, Issue 1, https://doi.org/10.17658/issn.2058-5462/issue-01/amarr