Creating The Image Of The King: The Early Modern Woodcut Of Sigismund Augustus From ‘Confessio Fidei’ By Stanislaus Hosius
Keywords:Sigismund Augustus, woodcut, the image of the King, Stanislaus Hosius, the Renaissance, the Counter-Reformation, the Habsburgs
My article is devoted to the woodcut with the image of Polish King Sigismund II Augustus Jagiellon (1520-1572) and to the possible authorship of this early modern emblem. The composition for the first time is noted in the second Vienna 1560 edition of ‘Confessio fidei’, written by Polish bishop and later – a Cardinal – Stanislaus Hosius (Stanisław Hozjusz). The same emblem is inserted in the 1561 Vienna edition, but is absent from all further reprints. At the same time, the National Museum in Cracow defines the origination of this woodcut from the city of Mainz and dates it back to 1557, however, in the existing exemplars of the 1557 print in The Princes Czartoryski Library and The Bavarian State Library in Munich this woodcut is not present.
In my article, I elucidate the artistic peculiarities of the composition of this emblem – the King’s portrait, the role of the framing of his figure with the dynastic and territorial coats of arms, and also analyse and translate the text of the 12-line poem in Latin. The poem interpreted the successes of Sigismund II, firstly, with the origins of his name from the ancient Roman princeps Octavius Augustus, and secondly, by the King’s faithfulness to the Catholic Church. Considering the appointment of Hosius as the nuncio to Vienna in 1559, the direct involvement of the bishop into the creation of this emblem is perceived as quite likely, especially in spite of Hosius’s activity in the Counter-Reformation processes in Europe. This was conducted for two purposes: in order to accomplish a specific didactic-catholic mission for Maximilian II Habsburg, as well as to promote the image of Sigismund Augustus in the international arena. In the article, the attention is focused on the ancient reminiscences, referred by the author, and the possible further research paths of the classical reception are defined in the context of early modern Europe.