background image
pictura in the database restricts itself to the most important visual motifs which are central to
emblematic interpretation, then the mention of the fishermen and the trees is unnecessary.An art
historical description of the image, such as ICONCLASS, would require these details to be
indexed, however. In response to the question posed above, this example leads to the following
conclusion: what I see is not important, and what I should see, I cannot see until I know what is
Often the description of the image is also not especially useful to the task of decoding a pic-
tura. Emblem 278 from Woyt's third volume (ill. 8) states:
Die Sonne / wie sie im höchsten Grad auf die Erde scheinet / da sich zwey Tauben an
einem feuchten Wässerlein befinden; deren eine sich schon gebadet / und nun an der
Sonne liegt / wieder zu trücknen: Die andere aber badet würcklich noch.
[The sun shines upon the earth from the highest point as two doves sit by a damp
pond; one of them has already bathed, and lies again in the sun to dry: but the other
truly still bathes.]
From the motto,"Wie hoch, so grosse Hitze" (The higher, the greater the heat), one begins to
sense that the doves are completely trivial to the interpretation, as the distich confirms:"Je klein-
er man sie sieht / so wärmer ihre Güt" (The smaller it looks, the more generous its nature).The
central thought of this emblem can hardly be seen, yet can be sensed in any case: when the sun
reaches its zenith and thus appears to be at its greatest distance, it produces the most heat.The
religious interpretation takes up this thought again:
Wenn fromme Christen meynen / GOTT sey sehr ferne von ihnen; so ist seine Hülffe
gemeiniglich am nächsten um sie. Cleophas und sein Gefehrte glaubten JEsum über alle
Berge weg zu seyn: Und siehe! Er wandelte mit ihnen auf dem Wege dermassen nahe /
daß auch ihr Hertz darüber brannte.
[When pious Christians think that God is very far away from them; then his help is usual-
ly closest to them. Cleophas and his companion believed Jesus to be beyond all reach, and
look! He traveled so closely with them along the way that He caused their hearts to burn.]
Laurentius Wolfgang Woyt,
Emblematischer Parnassus (Augsburg:
J.Wolff, 1730) part 3, 50.
See footnote 32,Woyt (1730),
"Moralische Applicationes," 43.
Illustration 8: Laurentius Wolfgang Woyt, Emblematischer
Parnassus. Part 3, Augsburg: J.Wolff, 1730, emblem no.
278, p. 51 (detail, enlarged; ZIKG: SB 327/6 R).
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