Wide view of Venice: Piazza San Marco - Riva degli Schiavoni

The Spirit of Carnival

Here is shown the Spirit of Carnival, in an allegorical engraving of the XVIII century, from the book "Iconologia del cavaliere Cesare Ripa, perugino" (Iconology of the Cav. Cesare Ripa from Perugia).

The book is a sort of an encyclopedia of human situations and behaviours, and each element is illustrated with an engraving like this one about Carnival.

Here it passes out the idea of sin and debauchery, using several symbolic elements:

  • short guy, and rather chubby
  • he wears the expressionless white face, the "volto" mask
  • has an ivy crown and a half moon on the head
  • bizzarre dress, theatrical
  • music sheets printed on his dress, on the left, with several music instruments
  • ... and on the other side there are food and drinks, several birds killed and ready to be eaten, the idea of a big feasting, as in the Berlingaccio
  • on the left hand he has a little branch with fig leaves
  • ... and with the right hand he's carelessly spilling out his money
  • and an unbridled horse (sexuality?)

The commentary of course is ... Word of God - ça va sans dire - by the abbot Cesare Orlandi

Printing by Anonymous Artist: "Iconologia di CARNOVALE"
Anonymous Artist: "Iconologia - CARNOVALE"
(Iconology of CARNIVAL) - engraving and book printing (1764)
Museo Correr, Venezia

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