Persistence, Ivy and a Crone: Old Women in Cesare Ripa's Iconology

Joanna Partyka


The Iconology by Cesare Ripa (1593), which constitutes a rich compendium of iconographic representations in which abstract concepts, virtues and vices were imagined through human figures and their attributes, features also the figures of old women. In the article the following questions are raised: Which of these concepts, virtues of human character, vices and inclinations are personified by “crones”, which by old women and which by women “in their prime”? Does the Italian iconographer motivate his choices and what explanations does he provide? What features were attributed to old age in the 16th and 17th centuries? And finally: how do ancient patterns of writing about old age and medieval stereotypes are reflected in Ripa's Iconology?


Cesare Ripa; iconology; old age; translation

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