Striking Jupiter Frontispiece from an Important Fencing Manual
Fascinating engraving of Jupiter as he stands in a form redolent of the Vitruvian Man. He is surrounded by imagery that references astrology.
The image served as the center of the untitled frontispiece for the second book of Girard Thibault d’Anvers’ masterwork on fencing, Academie de l'Espée. The full image, with a pantheon of gods and constellations is available here.
Book two was left incomplete at the time of the author’s death and it therefore lacks an explanation of this choice of frontispiece. Despite the fact that the title page for the work dates the volume to 1628, it appears that it was actually first published in 1630. The work was sponsored by Louis XIII and other nobles across Europe. It celebrated a form of fencing akin to the Spanish school of Geronimo de Carrança and Luis Pacheco de Navarez. The second volume was to discuss equestrian combat. The book is lavish, with richly-detailed illustrations made by Flemish engravers.
Jupiter is shown as perched on the back of a turtle, with a stag resting behind him. He is flanked by a monkey and a dog. In his right hand is a pike, in his left is a symbol of lightning and a horn. Standing at his waist is an elegant, long rapier. An eagle, the messenger of Jupiter, sits at the top of the image above a blank cartouche.
Jupiter was the Roman god of the sky and storms; he commanded thunder and lightning. His symbols included the eagle, as seen here, and the oak tree. Jupiter was thought to oversee and direct battle, suggesting that his inclusion here is to project poise and control in combat.