From antiquity, when the gods and goddesses were commonly featured in works of art, through the twentieth century, when Surrealists drew on archetypes from the unconscious, artists have embedded symbols in their works. The goal of this book is to provide contemporary readers and museum visitors with the tools to read the hidden meanings in works of art.
This volume is thematically divided into four sections featuring symbols related to time, man, space (earth and sky), and allegories or moral lessons. Readers will learn, for instance, that night, the primordial mother of the cosmos, was often portrayed in ancient art as a woman wrapped in a black veil, whereas day or noon was often represented in Renaissance art as a strong, virile man, evoking the full manifestation of the sun's energy.
Each entry in the book contains a main reference image in which details of the symbol or allegory being analyzed are called out for discussion. In the margin, for quick access by the reader, is a summary of the essential characteristics of the symbol in question, the derivation of its name, and the religious tradition from which it springs.
Matilde Battistini is an art critic and coauthor, with Stefano Zuffi, of Picasso: L'opera di un genio and La Natura Morta.