Ms Carol Barbour

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Ms Carol Barbour
MA, BA (Hon)
Warburg Institute
Toronto and London.
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16-Dec-2021 The Artist's Frame of Reference in Antoine Sucquet's Via Vita Aeternae, 1620.


 ed. Arthur J. DiFuria and Walter Melion (2022) 

Ekphrastic Image-making in Early Modern Europe, 1500–1700, Intersections, Volume: 79, pp. 93-119.

ISBN: 978-90-04-10997-1; 978-90-04-46206-9

Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill.

xl, 844 pp.: 254 color ills.

Via vita aeternae, or Road to eternal life, is a Latin emblem book written by the Jesuit priest Antoine Sucquet (1574–1627), illustrated by Boëtius à Bolswert (1580–1633), and first published at Antwerp in 1620. Four specific emblems in the book depict an artist in the act of painting. Primarily this essay will show how the emblems functioned as meditative prompts, and secondly it will examine the influence of the Tabula Cebetis on the Christological narrative of the Via vita aeternae.

01-Mar-2019 Alter Pieces


Alter Pieces is an artist book by Carol Barbour, which explores the altarpiece as a relational subject of enquiry. The book includes photographic reproductions of Barbour's paintings and sculptures, an essay and poem. Toronto, 2019. Digital print. 60 pages. 6 x 9″ ISBN:9781999019907.

01-Sep-2018 Infrangible


Collection of poems by Carol Barbour. Editors:  Michael Mirola and Elanna Wolf.  76 pages. ISBN13: 9781771832786. ISBN10: 1771832789.

01-Jun-2000 Reading the Face: Portraits by Brian Appel, Doug Guildford and Sadko Hadzihasanovic.

Research aids

Exhibition dates : 3 June - 15 July 2000, Cambridge Galleries.

6 pages. Pulblishd by Cambridge, Ont.: Cambridge Galleries, 2000. ISBN:0968726003

Research Projects & Supervisions
PhD Topic:

The Iconography of the Tabula Cebetis, ca. 1507-1600.

The ekphrastic dialogue known as the Tabula Cebetis (1st century CE) is an allegory of human life that was rediscovered by Italian humanist scholars, and consequently attracted the attention of publishers, poets, and artists. The content of the dialogue is derived from the iconography of a painting that was displayed in a temple dedicated to Cronos/Saturn. A sage provides an explanation of the allegorical painting to a group of youths for the purpose of moral edification. Constructed in three distinct rings, or stages, the painting depicts the journey of human life with the aid of allegorical figures. 

This research project seeks to identify the visual strategies deployed by artists and their collaborators to create the iconography of the Tabula Cebetis. By tracking the frequencies of imitation and innovation, it is possible to demonstrate how and why the iconography developed over time and space. Since the painting described in the text of the Tabula Cebetis is lost, artists had to invent the iconography. How did artists improve upon or advance the design, and what factors influenced the developments? Many of the examples are by anonymous artists, who worked in a variety of mediums. A comparative analysis of the allegorical figures, composition, and design developments over the course of the sixteenth century has not been conducted in detail.

Dr. Raphaële Mouren; Dr. Rembrandt Düits
Research interests:
Classics, Communities, Classes, Races, Cultural memory, Culture, Gender studies, History, History of art, History of the book, Language and Literature (French), Language and Literature (Italian), Manuscript studies, Philosophy

Europe, North America, United Kingdom
Relevant Events

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Date Details
01-Apr-2022 Arundel 317: Interwoven in Text and Images

Renaissance Society of Amercia, Dublin, 2022.

Session titled ‘Visual, Verbal, and Prophetic Rhetoric: The Italian Connection’ organized by Elizabeth Skerpan-Wheeler, Texas State University. 

The earliest known illustrations of the Tabula Cebetis are six miniatures in the manuscript known as Arundel 317. A presentation gift to Henry VII (1457-1509), King of England ca. 1507, the book combines a paraphrase in hexameter verse and anonymous miniatures, which are attributed to the circle of the French artist Jean Coene IV. The Latin text consists of dedications, poems, and prose summaries by the Servite monk Filippo Alberici (d.1531). This paper will focus on the intricate ways in which visual and textual metaphors were greatly enhanced by artistic collaboration in the case of Arundel 317. 

21-May-2021 Spirals, Ropes, and Globes: Emblematic Time

International Congress of Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, 2021.

Emblem Session organized by Sabine Mödersheim 

   Time is often represented by the three-part construction of past, present and future. Similarly, emblems are typically tripartite in form, consisting of the motto, the image, and the poem. An early modern reader would have interpreted each part of the emblem in relation to the whole, and subsequently discover the process of metaphorical transmission. This paper will primarily discuss emblematic figures of time with a particular focus on the technology of ropemaking.  

19-Mar-2019 A World Under Pressure: The Globe in Montenay’s Emblèmes ou devises chrestiennes.

Political Iconography: Emblem Society Panel at the Renaissance Society of  America Conference, Toronto, 2019.

Georgette de Montenay (1540-1607), the author of the emblem book Emblèmes ou devises chrestiennes, has been cited as an early modern proto-feminist. In Emblèmes, Montenay’s one hundred poems were published along with Pierre Woeiriot de Bouzey’s copperplate engravings. In an earlier paper titled “Rebuilding the Temple in Georgette de Montenay’s Emblèmes ou devises chrestiennes, I examined a specific group of emblems, some of which featured the female body as a metaphor of agency and political will, while others replicated negative stereotypes. In this paper I continue to analyze the book through the lens of gender, however the primary focus will be on the recurring motif of the world, which is represented more than ten times throughout the book. It would seem that the emphatic repetition of the globe points to the problem of adapting the emblematic form to suit the author’s Calvinist beliefs. In several of the emblems, the world is mistreated or appropriated by humans and personifications such as death and ignorance. Thus, could it be that Montenay’s portrayal of the world as a victim was meant to signal to the reader the necessity of action in order to save one’s soul, and simultaneously save the world? Together Montenay’s poetry and Woeiriot’s images present an intricate narrative structure with an explicit program of violence and reform. Rendered in this way, the globe is more than a symbol of history and memory, but rather a collective body in evolution, a representation of political will, a marble polished by the hand of God. 

01-Nov-2018 Sacred Emblems in Jesuit Books and Sermons: From Aresi’s Delle Sacre Imprese to Bovio’s Rhetoricae Suburbanum

Sixteenth Century Society Conference.

Panel organized by Walter Melion

   Following on the work of Georgette de Montenay, the Jesuits Paolo Aresi, Carlo Bovio, and others, advanced the genre of emblem books for use in sermons. Italian emblem books are generally based on the imprese form, which originally functioned as a kind of cipher, a collection of visual motifs used to describe individual identity, and primarily members of the nobility and the educated elite. Due in part to cross cultural exchange resulting from the various invasions and military negotiations between France and Italy, the Jesuits conflated the impresa and the emblem genres, adapting them to function as mnemonic tools in the realm of performance and prayer. Paolo Aresi’s collection of emblems titled Delle Sacre Imprese is a substantial work that includes many digressions, quotations, and references to intellectual sources. Carlo Bovio’s Rhetoricae Suburbanum features imprese in six parts, which honour the life and work of prominent Jesuits, along with poetic interpretations of key concepts and arguments. In the case of Aresi, chapters begin with a figura, motto, and subscriptio, followed by a sermon, many of which reference natural science, mythology, hagiography, and biblical commentary. His digressions are lengthy rhetorical essays, which expand on the content of the figure at the head of each chapter.In this paper, I examined a selection of images and related texts from Aresi’s Delle Sacre Imprese, and Bovio’s Rhetoricae Suburbanum in order to demonstrate how the Jesuits utilized the inherent flexibility of metaphor characterized by the emblem and impresa forms, and thus, in effect, advanced the genre to include rhetorical narratives in relation to the figures. 

12-May-2018 Rebuilding the Temple in Georgette de Montenay’s Emblèmes.

 International Congress of Medieval Studies,  Kalamazoo, 2018.

Montenay adapted the emblem book tradition as conceived by Andrea Alciati in Emblemata Liber (1531) to communicate her Calvinist faith in one-hundred French huitains. The copper-plate engravings by artist Pierre Woeiriot (1532-1596)demonstrate artistic innovation and skill, illuminating the poems with great impact, and originality. Considered the first entirely religious emblem book, Montenay’s Emblemes indirectly critiques the popular literary form, and re-builds the structure according to her unique place and time in history. 

23-Jun-2017 Fit for a Queen of Reform: Georgette de Montenay’s Emblèmes.

Biblyon, livre et création littéraire à Lyon au  XVIe siècle, Lyons, France, 2017.

Woeiriot’s author portrait of Montenay points to her class, privilege, and vocation as a writer. Reproduced, and disseminated by the powerful technology of the printing press, the portrait represents female agency during the Reformation. The book was granted a privilege by the King of France, Charles IX in Oct. 1566, a few months after the iconoclastic riots in The Netherlands. It was a time of violence and inquisitions, political maneuvering and extreme shifts in power, culminating in Le Massacre de la Saint-Barthélemy of 1572. Though difficult to see, the date 1567 is inscribed on the neck of the lute to the right of the author. Other items on the table are a book, inkwell, and music score. These symbols, generally associated with the solitary practice of writing and study, construct a portrait of the author as an educated woman, charged with the capacity of speaking for herself, despite the terms and conditions of public discourse.

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