The Spanish Society of Emblematics has announced its Tenth International Congress, which we will organize in Palma de Mallorca, exactly a year from now. After thinking a lot about the title, distilling it almost to the point of the esoteric, we have opted for one which is something self-evident for this kind of meeting: Encrucijada de la Palabra y la Imagen Simbólicas, “On the crossroads of symbolic words and images”. In a way, this is the basic definition of the emblem. But this crossroads also highlights the peculiar focus of our analysis of cultural history as a whole.
Then we had to design the poster of the event. The fact that this is the tenth congress allowed us to link the Roman X with the very concept of crossroads heralded in the title. Digging into our memory, we recalled the magnificent manuscript Mira Calligraphiae Monumenta, in which the master calligrapher of the Hungarian chancellery in Vienna, Georg/György Bocskay, designed a complex work page by page, displaying all his skills in the art of drawing letters. He finished it in 1562, but then his notebook fell into the hands of Rudolf II of Prague, who, admiring the Bocskay’s precision, decided to make it into a truly unique work, worthy of his imperial collections.
For this purpose, he instructed the best manuscript illuminator he could find, Joris Hoefnagel, to decorate it with the best of his arts, and to spare no effort. Hoefnagel not only amply executed his task, but he also complemented it with a typographic game, whose elements, whether copied, or invented on the basis of natural elements, joined with mathematical rigor the tracery and composition of the letters. Here is the “X” we wanted: the devise of Emperor Augustus, the crab clutching in its pincers a butterfly – an image usually accompanied with the Latin motto Matura –, converted in a graphic sign. Crossroads of word and image, but also a sign that we have come – maturando – to the tenth congress of the Society. Already twenty years – X-X – always having the motto in sight.