Corrozet. Hecatongraphie

Gilles Corrozet. Hecatongraphie

Gilles Corrozet (1510-1568)


(Click on the call number to view the digital facsimile of the book.)

Gordon 1543 .C67

Hecatongraphie : C'est à dire les descriptions de cent figures & hystoires …

As the title indicates, Corrozet’s book includes one hundred emblems, each with a woodcut figure, a title, a brief verse epigram, and a longer verse explanation on the facing page. Denys Janot printed four editions of this work by Corrozet between 1540 and 1544, all using the same woodcut blocks. A noted Parisian printer of illustrated books, Janot also published Corrozet’s emblematic Tableau de Cebes de Thebes (Gordon 1543 .K43), which includes some woodcuts from the Hecatongraphie.

The Catalogue of Books of Emblems in the Library of Robert Hoe (1908) describes a “second issue” of the 1543 edition, identified by the spelling in the colophon of “Hecatongraphie” and “contre” with an “n” and one case of reset type on the last page of the text. There are also typographical differences on the title page. According to Stephen Rawles, based on typographical evidence, this second issue of 1543 was actually printed in 1544¹ . The Gordon copy of Corrozet’s Hecatongraphie exhibits the variants associated with the 1544 printing date.

Corrozet’s themes include many proverbs and moral lessons prevalent in the French emblem books of the day, and can tell us much about the values shared by the reading public of the Renaissance:

“La fin nous fait tous egaux”, for example, uses a game of chess to illustrate the lesson that death is the great equalizer of men.

In “Faire tout par moyen,” the myth of Icarus and Daedalus teaches of the need for moderation in all things.

The image of a naked woman chasing birds in “Nature foeminine” underscores the common 16th-century belief in the “flighty” nature of women.

¹ See entry number F.195 in A Bibliography of French Emblem Books, by Adams, Rawles and Saunders (Geneva: Droz, 1999), as well as Rawles’ article, “Corrozet’s Hecatomgraphie: where did the woodcuts come from and where did they go?” in Emblematica 3.1 (1988).

Modern facsimile and critical edition:

Corrozet, Gilles. Hecatongraphie, 1544 ; &, Les emblemes du Tableau de Cebes (1543) / Gilles Corrozet ; reproduits en facsimilé avec une étude par Alison Adams. Genève : Droz, 1997.

Internet Resources

French Emblems at Glasgow includes a facsimile and transcription of the 1540 edition of the Hecatomgraphie, along with information about Corrozet, the publication history of this work, and a select secondary bibliography.