"La Rivista di Engramma (open access)" ISSN 1826-901X

211 | aprile 2024


Towards an Edition of the Atlas. Gertrud Bing’s Unpublished Notes on the Mnemosyne Atlas Panels

Gertrud Bing. Introduction, first Edition and Translation by Giulia Zanon

Abstract | Versione italiana

§ Introduction
§ Gertrud Bing’s Unpublished Notes on Mnemosyne Panels [WIA.III.108.2]


Giulia Zanon

Two Notebooks

Gertrud Bing’s two Kirby Series notebooks.

Under the file number WIA III.108.1.2, the archive of the Warburg Institute in London contains two small, ruled ‘reporters book’ notebooks marked “The Kirby Series”. They are identical, and both are the size of a notepad, roughly A5 size. On the cover of each is a title written in pen in English: “No. 1. Plates A–44” and “No. 2. Plates 45–79 odd”. As the reference to “Plates” suggests, the contents refer to Aby Warburg’s Atlas, whose Panels are known to be numbered progressively from 1 to 79, with some omissions, after the initial block of plates labelled A, B, and C. Inside, the notebooks contain a series of pencilled notes in Gertrud Bing’s clear handwriting, arranged according to the sequence of the Panels. Contrary to the titles on the cover, the language used inside is German. The notes form a kind of synopsis of each Panel, with instructions – mostly addressed by Gertrud to herself – for the completion, editing, and publication of the Mnemosyne Atlas.

Prelude: A Disrupted Project

Aby Warburg’s sudden death on 26 October 1929 marked the abrupt end of the period considered to be the peak of the scholar’s intellectual production (as testified in Pasquali [1930] 2022). It was a period of fervent study and prolific activity whose brightness had finally dispelled the shadows and defeated the aporia of Kreuzlingen, the Swiss sanatorium from which Warburg had returned in 1924 as a redux, with the lucid will to give a decisive turn to his intellectual action. He started with the construction of the library, which, with its elliptical hall, immediately emerged as a space with clear ideological connotations, “a rotating turret of observation and reflection” (From the Arsenal to the Laboratory (1927), in Warburg [1927] 2012, 119; about the construction of the Bibliothek Warburg see Settis [1985, 1996] 2022, Calandra di Roccolino 2019, Calandra di Roccolino 2014).

Warburg’s sudden death disrupted the joyous aftermath of an extensive journey in Italy undertaken by Warburg and Gertrud Bing in late 1928 and early 1929. This was the trip that provided an opportunity to put the “Warburg method” to the test (think, for example, of the great lecture at the Hertziana Library in Rome in January 1929; see De Laude 2014; Sears 2023) and solidified Warburg’s awareness of the absolute importance of his own cultural mission (“I am growing in the idea that my method has been well received and that it will have consequences”, Warburg wrote: Diario romano, 49). The journey had also provided the impetus for the completion of the Mnemosyne – the great figurative Atlas that follows the karst phenomenon of the expressive formulas of antiquity – which, in the two years preceding the trip, had become Warburg’s greatest, most important, and, above all, most urgent work.

The urgency to conceive and publish the Atlas is evident in the extensive notes left by Warburg and in his diaries from those years, including the Tagebuch of the Warburg Library, which was compiled by Aby Warburg, Gertrud Bing, and Fritz Saxl starting in 1926 (and by Warburg and Bing alone after 1928). Reading through the pages, on which ideas and discoveries were recorded from year to year, the presence of Mnemosyne begins to emerge more and more clearly. At first contemplated as an idea, the Atlas gradually becomes the ultimate goal of research and the mission of a lifetime. Phrases such as “… Mnemosyne will follow”, and “It is the most profound aid to achieving our goal: Mnemosyne” (Diario romano, 52, 65) become increasingly frequent. This impulse towards Mnemosyne in the diaries from 1928 and 1929 implies very clearly and in every entry a ‘we’. The presence of “College Bing”, “Herr Bing”, and “Bingius” – some of the nicknames used by Warburg in letters and diaries – is always highlighted and maintained in the foreground. In the Atlas-project, Gertrud Bing is not a mere helper, although this is the role to which she has for too long been relegated by basically misogynistic literature that has occasionally made her the ‘secretary’ and at most the ‘assistant’. Rather, she is a true co-author, a faithful companion in the period that Bing herself would define as “such a high point in the professor’s life, a wonderful conclusion and cathartic synthesis of his whole heroic and eternally combative life” (letter from Gertrud Bing to Rudolph Wittkower, 12 December 1929 [WIA GC]).

On 26 October 1929, Aby Warburg died. This interrupted a major project, the Mnemosyne Atlas, which at last seemed to be close to publication. A month later, in a letter addressed to the art historian Ulrich Middledorf, Gertrud Bing wrote:

Das letzte Jahr den Atlas doch soweit gefördert hat, dass wir daran denken dürfen, ihn herauszugeben. Gerade in den letzten Wochen ist eine neue und ziemlich endgültige Fassung der Tafeln entstanden. An fertigem zusammenhängendem Text ist zwar nicht sehre viel vorhanden, immerhin aber ist der Nachlass an Aufzeichnungen und Notizen so unendlich groß, dass wir hoffen dürfen, mosaikartig den ganzen Kommentar mit seinen eigenen Worten zusammenstellen zu können. Über die Anlage des Ganzen z.B. was die Hinzufügung von Dokumenten betrifft, sind wir auch ziemlich genau unterrichtet. Die “Mnemosyne” werden Professor Saxl und ich zusammen herausgebende […]. 

Over the past year, the Atlas has progressed to the point where we are thinking of publishing it. In the last few weeks a new and rather final version of the Panels has been composed. Although there is no really finished and coherent text, the body of notes and annotations is so vast that we can hope to put the whole commentary together as a mosaic of his own words. We are also well aware of the structure of the work as a whole, e.g. with regard to the addition of material. Professor Saxl and I will be the editors of Mnemosyne […] (Letter from Gertrud Bing to Ulrich Middledorf, 25 November 1929 [WIA GC], translated by G.Z.). 

These lines are taken from a letter whose content is comparable to many others in the dense correspondence of the period. Faced with expressions of grief at Warburg’s death, we find in Bing no retreat into despondency but rather an outburst of positive reaction in the name of conscience and responsibility towards that bewildering but fertile legacy still in the making, which had yet to bear its best fruit. Warburg’s death certainly marked a stopping point, but what had not died was the sense of urgency clearly expressed in Bing’s words: The Atlas can – must – be published. The unflagging energy of the fire that Warburg kindled was alive and well, and Gertrud Bing’s clear, rational will was determined to carry on the most important project of all: Mnemosyne.

There are two highly important pieces of information regarding the possibility of publishing the Atlas that can be gleaned from the letter to Middledorf: 1) The state of near-completion of the last version of the Atlas, which was composed in the last weeks of Warburg’s life upon his return from his trip to Italy in the autumn of 1929; 2) The existence of a precise, methodologically ordered structure, which Warburg’s collaborators (particularly Bing) had mastered, and the possibility of constructing a commentary on the work using Warburg’s “own words” thanks to the vast corpus of notes on the subject.

The urgency of the publication of Mnemosyne, and at the same time, the difficulties that arose after Warburg’s death, are evidenced by a large number of letters and the drafting of a new publishing contract (as Bing wrote in the Tagebuch on 8 October 1929: “Long letter to Teubner. [...] Mnemosyne has been announced”, GS Tagebuch, 544; see also Centanni 2022a, 325). On 9 December 1929, after Warburg’s death, Fritz Saxl received a letter from Victor Fleischner, director of the Heinrich Keller publishing house, who was a pioneer in the use of collotype and specialised in art publications: 

Nach meinen Notizen schätzen Sie den Umfang der Warburgschriften:
Kleine Schriften ca. 400 Seiten
Ungedruckte Vorträge ca. 150 Seiten
Tagebuch, Briefe, Aphorismen ca. 400 Seiten
Illustrationen insgesamt 300 Abbildungen
Atlas ca. 400 Seiten und 300 Liichtdrucktafeln

According to my notes, your estimate for the volume of Warburg’s writings:
Selected Writings, about 400 pages
Unpublished lectures, about 150 pages
Diary, letters, aphorisms approx. 400 pages
Illustrations 300 illustrations in total
Atlas approx. 400 pages and 300 collotype plates (Letter from Victor Fleischner to Fritz Saxl, 9 December 1929 [WIA GC], translated by G.Z.).

Gertrud Bing’s determination to publish Warburg’s work did not only concern the Atlas; it was primarily focused on a conceptually and editorially easier operation: the publication of the volume of edited essays. Ultimately, the collection was published by Teubner and edited by Bing and Fritz Rougemont (on the forgotten figure of Fritz Rougemont, see A forgotten essay by Fritz Rougemont on Warburg and the use of “bibliophily” as a scientific tool, published in this issue of Engramma). The republication of the edited essays certainly represented a first, fundamental step in the valorization of Warburg’s work, but as fate would have it, the Gesammelte Schriften (the “Selected Writings” to which Fleischner refers in his letter) only became available in 1932, at the dawn of the rise of National Socialism and the subsequent tragic diaspora of German intellectuals from the Kulturwissenschaftliche Bibliothek Warburg (this tragic state of affairs is illustrated by Mario Praz in his review of the collection of Warburg’s writings: Praz [1934] 2022). Moreover, October 1929 marked the beginning of a very difficult period of uncertainty, economic even more so than political (as Monica Centanni notes: “Significant, yet not sufficiently highlighted in the critical literature, is the coincidence between the outbreak of the Wall Street crisis (29 October 1929), the date of Aby’s death from a heart attack (26 October 1929): Centanni 2022a, 343), that jeopardized all the plans of the KBW and turned the fate of the Warburgkreis upside down (see Burkart [2000] 2020). The intellectuals who had gathered around the Hamburg library migrated to London, where everything changed. The name was changed from KBW to Warburg Institute, the language of scientific communication went from German to English, and the hierarchies and relationships within the group were altered (see Centanni 2022b, Centanni 2020, Takaes 2020, Takaes 2018).

Nonetheless, the newly founded Warburg Institute continued to focus on the publication of everything left behind, in primis Warburg’s unpublished works. This was stated in the Institute’s first annual report (1934–1935): 

Before new English works are taken in hand, we are however faced with the task of completing those already begun in Germany. An essential piece of work of this kind we consider to be the edition of Professor Warburg’s collected works, two volumes of which appeared earlier […]. An “Atlas”, which will contain his hitherto unpublished work on “the History of Expression and Gesture in the Renaissance”, with special reference to the influence of classical sources, is being prepared by Dr. Bing (The Warburg Institute Annual Report 1934-1935, London 1935, 8).

Before new research could begin in the new English institute, it was essential to publish everything that was in the pipeline in the later years in Hamburg. First and foremost was the Atlas. The annual report indicates that around 1935 Bing was still actively working on the section of an “Atlas” on the “History of Expression and Gesture in the Renaissance”. One can imagine Bing intent on picking up the pieces of images and words that Warburg had left for Mnemosyne, delicately shaping and framing them to form “a mosaic of his own words”.

The notebooks published here for the first time have no precise date. As we have seen, the materiality of the supports, which are certainly of British manufacture, and the hand-written English titles on the covers (the use of English seems to be conditioned by the language on which the graphic design of the covers is based) allow us to date the notes with a good margin of certainty, placing them after the move across the Channel. The terminus post quem of 1932 is confirmed by two internal dates: the references to the Gesammelte Schriften, published in Leipzig in 1932, and the reference to Jean Seznec in the note to Panel 27, which provides another clue for dating the notebooks to the mid-1930s. The two notebooks thus provide further evidence that, as the first report of the Warburg Institute attests, Gertrud Bing took over the Atlas material around 1935 in preparation for the Atlas’ publication.

The Commentary Structure

2 | Aby Warburg’s notes on the structure of Mnemosyne, 1929 [WIA III.102.6.2, f.23]. Photo: The Warburg Institute.

The two notebooks examined follow the numbering of the Panels in the last photographically documented version of the Atlas (the so-called Final Version, dated autumn 1929). Bing writes commentaries on all the plates except for Panel B, to which is dedicated a laconic ‘B’ heading in pencil, followed by a few pages that were apparently left blank to be filled in later.

One interesting detail is the presence of a Panel D. Under the title “Oriental (Babylonian) Divinatory Practices”, Bing’s notes refer to the clay liver of Bogazköy, the bronze liver of Piacenza, the Boundary stelae, and the Babylonian Kudurru. All images are found in Panel 1 of the Atlas. Thus, there is no Panel D in the documented version of the Atlas, but the contents of the Panel correspond exactly to Panel 1 and replace it in the sequence.

However, the intention to include a panel called ‘D’ in the sequence can already be read in a series of notes in Warburg’s own hand that were dated 1929 and related to the structure of Mnemosyne:

A – ?
3. B – Sternb
9. C – Mikrokosmos
7. D – bis Kepler u. weiter zu Zeppelin
[WIA III.102.6.2, f.23].

According to this note [Fig. 2], the sequence of the opening panels should have flowed, leaving room for the inclusion of an initial Panel A, thus changing the titles of the first three Panels (A>B; B>C; C>D). Instead, in her notes, Bing proposes to include what we know as Panel 1 in the ‘orientation’ blocks A, B, and C (on the genesis and structure of the ABC block, see the seminal contributions De Laude 2015 and Seminario Mnemosyne 2015). 

The most definitive confirmation of the existence of Panel D in the Bilderatlas project and of the incipit nature of Mnemosyne’s first Panels comes from Warburg, in a note a few days before his death:

Circa 80 Gestelle mit circa 1160 Abbildungen. Werde circa 6 Tafeln zur Erkenntnistheorie und Praxis der Symbolsetzung aufstellen (A, B, C, D…).

About 80 panels with 1160 pictures. I set up about 6 panels for a theory of knowledge and a practice of symbolisation (A, B, C, D,...) (Entry of 20 October 1929, GS Tagebuch, 551, translated by G.Z.).

This statement is an essential contribution to the reconstruction of the history of the Atlas project as it testifies to: 1) the desire to include in Mnemosyne some six panels, identified by alphabetical letters rather than numbers; and 2) the theoretical nature of these ‘alphabetical’ panels, which must be read as the thesis that the Atlas seeks to test and as the elaboration of a gnoseological theory and its application through the “practice of symbolisation”. Warburg’s definition of the Panels “A, B, C, D,…” deserves further elaboration but will not be addressed here; it is however relevant to note that “Zur Erkenntnistheorie und Praxis der Symbolsetzung” is one of the titles of the introductory pages to the Geburtstagsatlas, the “Birthday Atlas”, the private edition of the Atlas prepared in 1937 by a young Ernst Gombrich (for the edition and history of the Geburtstagsatlas see, among others, Seminario Mnemosyne 2023a; for an index of contributions on this subject see Seminario Mnemosyne 2023b).

Another element worth noting is the presence of a page of notes dedicated to Panels 1-8, with each panel corresponding to a title. It is a kind of summary for the “Antike Vorprägungen”, which presents the themes: catastrophization and the belief in the stars to affect triumphal pathos, the passage through the pathetic formulae of the kidnapping and the lament, the energetic inversion between pain and fury, the mystery cults. In the economy of the commentary, this passage confirms the plan to treat the “pre-impression of the Antiquity” as a single block within the Atlas – a chapter devoted to the “original expressions of gestural language”, the repertoire of models on which the tradition of the ancients could draw during various epochs. The only panel that does not have an assigned theme is Panel 1, but given the presence of the previous Panel D/Panel 1, this fact might simply suggest that Bing wanted to insert a new Panel 1 (on this point, see Gertrud Bing’s letter to Middledorf, particularly the passage that reads: “We are also quite aware of the structure of the whole work, e.g. with regard to the addition of materials”).

The style of the annotation is that of a note. It is a dry way of writing that uses shorthand signs (‘+’, ‘–’, ‘→’) and is obviously addressed more to Bing herself than to a hypothetical reader. In the working state of someone who is trying to regain familiarity with the Panel material after five years and a traumatic move to London, Bing does not spare herself questions, doubts, or personal comments, and vows to study certain topics in greater depth. The questions raised are on several levels. Some questions concern the assembly: “Why here?” she asks about the depiction of the Muses in Panel 2; “Does the leaf from Reg. lat. 1283 belong on the next page?” she asks about Panel 21. Other doubts concern the nature of the materials. With regard to the two maps shown in Panel A, the celestial and the geographical, Bing asks why “an older map” and “a normal map”, respectively, were not used. Other questions concern the meaning of the composition and the different degrees of conceptual complexity of the juxtapositions. Panel 4 reads “[…] There is the river god (connection with Ariadne?)”; on Panel 41 she asks: “Is Virgil understood as the master of all the pathos of battle and triumph, or only as the source of the Venus Virgo?”. Bing not only asks questions but also expresses her perplexity about certain passages: “I do not understand this Panel in detail at all” in reference to Panel 34; she reiterates her willingness to research certain topics in more detail (“I must first research all the other images” is written for Panel 60). 

Bing’s uncertainty on some points becomes a valuable hermeneutic tool because it explains the need to unravel the hermeticity of the most well-known meagre notes left by Warburg and published in various editions of the Atlas (from Rappl et al. 1994 onwards and, above all, Seminario Mnemosyne 2012). If the Mnemosyne project is to be seen as rhizomatically extended and intricately developed in the mind of its creator and its completion thought of as only possible thanks to the patient process of maieutics and spatial organization of the flow of mental images prematurely interrupted in October 1929, then Bing’s questions and doubts, which were close to Warburg’s during the most intense phase of his elaboration of the Mnemosyne Panels, constitute an echo of this difficult and tormented intellectual gestation.

Fragments of Warburgian Lexicon: “Engram”

In Gertrud Bing’s notes, distinctly Warburgian terms recur. A good example comes from the notes relating to Panel 21, which were dedicated to the Arabic version of the planets ‘on the way to magical practice’. The ancient deities in oriental garb are:

Ausgesucht nach ihrem Erinnerungsgewicht. Nachlebe Wert. Engramm. Engraphische Energie.

Chosen according to their weight on Memory. Afterlife value. Engram. Engraphic energy.

As is well known, Warburg borrowed the term “Engram” from Richard Semon’s studies on memory. According to the definition proposed by the biologist in Die Mneme (1904), the engram is the trace of a memory or experience imprinted in an individual’s neural network. Warburg took Semon’s theory and transferred it from biology to his field of study, namely cultural history.

The term thus recurs in some passages of Warburg’s writings, especially in the last period of his life. Some of such passages read: “The metamorphosis motif taken from Ovid […] has been modified, but the effect remains as a mnemonic engram linked to stimuli in the general pathosformel of the figures” (Diario romano (1929), 68-69); “It seems to me that a relief with the emperor riding impetuously over dead enemies, as it found its barbaric expression in Valente’s medal, is an engram that resists stylistic transformation of an ethical kind” (L’Antico romano nella bottega di Ghirlandaio (1929), in AWM II, 688); “The Eroici Furori cling like an engram!” (Syderalis abyssus: Giordano Bruno (1929), in AWM I, 421). The trace of the engram “persists”, “resists stylistic change”, “clings”. Note how in all these passages, the engram is always linked to the act of “resisting” transformations and changes relevant to the period and context. The sign, once deeply inscribed, cannot be washed away by the waters of time. These passages highlight, in nuce, the concept and mechanism of Nachleben, the survival and re-emergence of the ancients through latencies, karst paths, and mutations.

To better understand the meaning and dynamics of the engram’s operation, it is useful to consider Bing’s note on Panel 21 in its entirety. It suggests that the planets are “chosen according to the weight they have on the memory”. For this passage, it is useful to question the theory of Charles Darwin, another scholar from whom Warburg drew important insights. Warburg first read The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals in the Biblioteca Nazionale in Florence during his stay with August Schmarsow in 1888 and noted in his diary: “At last a book that is useful to me”. In the field of cultural memory, too, the “stronger” element prevails as it is more capable of adapting to the new context, like the planetary gods of Arab culture. This agonal element of a “struggle for survival” in which the one who “has the most weight in memory” prevails is a Darwinian feature on which the theoretical structure of the Mnemosyne Atlas is based. The fact that images and concepts are chosen, as Bing points out, “according to the weight they have in memory” cannot therefore go unnoticed. As Antonella Sbrilli writes:

L’impronta darwiniana (col suo portato di concetti quali sopravvivenza, variazione, ereditarietà) è stata riscontrata nel riconoscimento dell’“agonismo delle dinamiche culturali”, della “mimetica capacità di persistenza” di immagini e segni, della forza di sopravvivenza intrinseca che alcune forme e soggetti della tradizione figurale dimostrano nel corso del tempo e dello spazio

The Darwinian imprint (with its bearing of concepts such as survival, variation, heredity) has been found in the recognition of the “agonism of cultural dynamics”, the “mimetic capacity for persistence” of images and signs, the intrinsic survival force that certain forms and subjects of the figural tradition demonstrate in the course of time and space (Sbrilli 2004, 22, translated by G.Z.).

Interesting in Bing’s notes is the use of the term “engraphic”. “Engraphic energy” is another term derived from Semon’s work, Engraphische Wirkung der Reize auf das Individuum (“The Engraphical Effect of Stimuli on the Individual”) and is the title of the second chapter of Mneme. The term “engraphic energy” never occurs in Warburg’s corpus, but by rereading Semon’s definition, we can understand Gertrud Bing’s choice to evoke the idea of “engraphic energy” for Mnemosyne: 

Ich bezeichne diese Wirkung der Reize als ihre engraphische Wirkung, weil sie sich in die organische Sustanz sozusagen eingräbt oder einschreibt. Die so bewirkte Veränderung der organischen Substanz bezeichne ich als das Engramm des betreffenden Reizes, und die Summe der Engramme, die ein Organismus ererbt oder während seines individuellen Lebens erworben hat, bezeichne ich als seine Mneme.

I call this effect of the stimuli their en graphic effect, because it engraves or inscribes itself, so to speak, in the organic substance. I call the change in the organic substance brought about in this way the engram of the stimulus in question, and the sum of the engrams that an organism has inherited or acquired during its individual life I call its mneme (R. Semon, Die Mneme, Leipzig 1904; translated by G.Z.].

Applying this biological theory to the field of the transmission of forms and ideas, we can say that the “engraphic effect” or “engraphy” is the first phase of the impression of a stimulus in collective and individual memory. From this impression, a mutation of the “organic substance” of culture itself results, a modification that can be defined as an “engram”. Finally, the set of “engrams”, inherited from tradition or acquired through external transplants, constitutes the historically connoted “cultural memory”. Bing’s chosen expression “engraphic energy” constitutes an important reading of Semon’s lesson and its Warburgian declination: it is the phase of first impression that contains the energetic potential of becoming of forms and concepts and the promise of their reappearance, forever new.

Mnemosyne Atlas and Warburg’s Writings: A single Corpus?

Bing’s notes often present specific references to various texts, sources, and critical contributions, motivating the presence of an image or series of images in the Panel (as is well known, one of the cornerstones of the method of Aby Warburg, whose one of his mottos was “Zum Bild, das Wort!”). The references are of a different nature. Bing refers to literary sources, such as the letters of Alessandra Macinghi Strozzi (whom Warburg had sent to him by Olschki during his stay in Rome, although he never mentions him directly in his texts), that testify to the new interest in a representation of restrained pain, as expressed in Panel 31; or, for Panel 40, La strage degli innocenti, a poem by Gianbattista Marino which for Warburg “is an excellent example of this bombastic baroque style, which expends its energies on the crassest of painted depic­tions of human violence and states of arousal” (The Entry of the Idealizing Classical Style in the Paintings of Early Renaissance, Warburg [1914] 2001, 23). Another reference is to contemporary scholarly essays, which are to be considered an essential methodological reference for understanding some of the thematic nodes of the Atlas. For example, James Frazer’s The Golden Bough (London 1915) was mentioned in reference to Panel 41a and Laocoon was called a “God-priest, King-priest, priest-sacrifice”. 


In addition to sources and scholarly essays by various authors, there are explicit references to Warburg’s essays, which are referenced according to Gesammelte Schriften, the complete collection of edited essays, published by Teubner in 1932 and edited by Bing and Rougemont. See, for instance, the reference in the note to Panel 34: “Below, the peasants at work, see Gesammelte Schriften. […] Alexander, see Gesammelte Schriften”; or in the note to Panel 39: “Engraving of Venus with Dancing Couple (see Gesammelte Schriften) […] Tarsia, see Gesammelte Schriften”; or in the note to Panel 43 “Ghirlandaio. Mirror of the soul, see Gesammelte Schriften essays”, etc. As we have seen, the reference to the Gesammelte Schriften is also an important element for the dating of the notes, as it is the main confirmation of 1932 as the post quem date of the writing of the notes.

However, the references to Warburg’s writings do not end with references to published essays. For example, take Panel 79, in which Warburg constructed a montage of photographs documenting the most recent chronicle, the Eucharistic procession of Pope Pius XI in St Peter’s on 25 July 1929. Of the montage, Bing wrote: “In the centre: the Pope as news (Cf. Doktorfeier)”. “Doktorfeier” is a reference to an unpublished Warburg text, the Celebration Speech for Three Doctorates, which was delivered in Hamburg on 30 July 1929, shortly after Warburg and Bing’s return from the Italian trip (WIA.III.112, the Italian translation now in AWO I.2, 903-910). In the text, Warburg refers to a “salad of pictures” that we find in the montage of Panel 79, in the middle band on the right: this is the illustrated supplement of the “Hamburger Fremdenblatt” of the previous day. For reasons of typographical economy and layout, the iconographic section on early twentieth-century newspapers was concentrated on one or more pages reserved for illustrations. The result was a montage of images juxtaposed in a completely arbitrary manner, with jarring contrasts and unexpected parallelisms. In his address to the postgraduates, Warburg presented the work, which “at first glance seems to be about a helpless abundance [of images]”, as a cross-section of the “problematic emotional and intellectual situation” of the reappearance of the antiquity in the contemporary; it is symptomatic precisely because it is by no means accidental. Among the winners of swimming competitions, racehorses, and the members of the city’s golf club, we also see, for example, the Pope “as news”:

Pope Pius XI with the vestments and monstrance being led into St Peter’s Square in Rome on 25 July […]. As his writings on mountaineering show, Pope Pius XI was an excellent and accomplished climber. Yesterday he left Hamburg after a long stay, accompanied by the Archbishop of Osnabrück and the German Nuncio Pacelli. Before his departure the Pope had breakfast with the director of Hapag Cuno and then visited Hagenbeck […] (AWO I.2, 905-908; translated by G.Z.).

A few lines earlier, the Doktorfeier also shows Warburg’s clear intentions regarding the KBW’s scientific agenda:

The illustrated journal supplement I have provided is not merely intended to add new material to a somewhat rhapsodic conversation, but has a more ambitious purpose. On this solemn evening, it is intended to help justify the mission of the Warburg Library. […] What the Kulturwissenschaftliche Bibliothek Warburg should do is the European dyspepsia of the intellectual heritage that has been at work in the Mediterranean from the earliest times to the present (AWO I.2, 903; translated by G.Z.). 

In these few lines, one can read a full awareness of the ambitious aim of the Mnemosyne project. Bing’s note on the Panel referring to the unpublished lecture is therefore not surprising. It may have been useful in interpreting the meaning of Panel 79, but it could also have been included in a wider project to publish Warburg’s unpublished writings.

In general, Bing’s notes prove that in addition to the project of compiling a commentary on the Mnemosyne Panels following certain thematic and lexical traces left by Warburg, there is full awareness of the fact that the Atlas should be included in the corpus of Aby Warburg’s production, including his unpublished works and thus going beyond the essays included in the Gesammelte Schriften.

Howver, the Atlas is certainly the most valuable among Warburg’s unpublished works. In Bing’s notebooks, the use of “Seite” (in Panel 21: “Does the sheet from Reg. 1283 belong with the next page?”), and of “Blatt” (in Panel 26: “Tabula Bianchini and the graph with the schematic comparison are relevant to Panel 27 – Schifanoja). provide important evidence that the edition is conceived as a series of “pages” and “sheets” to be moved and rearranged until a definitive and readable arrangement is found. Once again, Bing’s notes on the Mnemosyne Panels confirm that the Atlas is conceived exclusively as a book in which the tables are to be arranged alongside commentaries; it is constructed “like a mosaic of Warburg’s own words”.

Gertrud Bing’s unpublished notes on the panels of the Mnemosyne Atlas [WIA.III.108.2]

Gertrud Bing, first edition by Giulia Zanon

Versione italiana
Panel A

[A] “Orientation” of man in his environment: upwards (observation of the sky), around him in space (spread of civilisation, Mediterranean basin), behind him in time (history, tradition).
Why not normal maps? 
The map represents the migration of planetary images – it is therefore congruent with its meaning.
Celestial map – Dutch, seventeenth century, populated (is it also moralised?) Why not an older one?
And why the Tornabuoni family tree and not the Medici one (apparently made for Ghirlandaio – relationship of the drawing to the fresco – death of the son – votive picture).

Panel B


Panel C

[C] Stages of overcoming the fear of the cosmos.
The feeling of being at the mercy of cosmic powers (in the manuscript) leads to populating the cosmos with terrifying figures.
Mars chosen because of Kepler.
Perseus also on the page [Panel].
Then come the epicycles of Tycho Brahe. The slightest difference leads to evolution.
Regular bodies are Kepler's first experiment – he is therefore still bound to a harmonic conception of the cosmos. Finally Mars orbit N.B. Kepler's letter to Rudolf II.
Success of this Overcoming: during the flight to East Asia, the Zeppelin avoided a thunderstorm (see Mars page) thanks to a signal transmitted by radio – Thermometer

Panel D [Panel 1]

[D] Oriental (Babylonian) practice of divination 
(in the service of the state?)
Clay liver of Boghazkoi
Bronze liver of Piacenza (i.e. direct transmission to the West)
Babylonian king with stellar deities
At the document in stone [Kudurru]
In hepatoscopy, deviations from normal results are used for divination. 
Question: What is the half Perseus Panel doing here? N.B. There is something oriental about it!

Panels 1-8
Panel 2

[2] The rising sun (Helios = Apoll)
Muses! Inspiration. Why here?
Muses signify a cosmic power 
(Pneuma). They have something to do with Apollo
Total transformation of the sky by the Greeks. Map – flattened.
Globe – representation of the curvature
The entire legend of Perseus – all the figures in the legend eclipse. Parents: Cassiopeia + Cepheus. Perseus. Andromeda.
Monster = Ketos. Pegasus who springs from the blood of Medusa (and returning to Apollo – Muses – Parnaso).

Panel 3

[3] Unrolling + crowding the globe
Dendera Zodiac, circular and in bands, with Egyptian decans, zodiac signs, planets
+ fixed stars. 
Tabula Bianchini with Egyptian constellations = device for divination among the Romans.
Deities of the week with the seven planets as god of the day.
Jupiter Dolichenus wearing the planets on his robes.
Diana of Ephesus with the zodiac signs as pectoral shield.

Panel 4

[4] Sarcophagi (i.e. mythology + cult of the dead)
Gigantomachia (in the montage connected with the sleeping Ariadne.
Feats of Hercules – Rape of Deianira by the centaur Nessus.
Rape of the Leucippides (?)
The Paris sarcophagus represents: the high and the low. The gaze of the earthbound towards the apparition in the sky. In addition, it is part of Villa Doria-Pamphilii, where a sarcophagus has been walled up as a decoration on the outer wall, and there is the river god (related to Ariadne?). 
Giants + Centaur as forces of nature. And also the front side of the domestic altar. But what do the other three sides mean?
Etruscan mirror with mourning for Prometheus (?)
Right, panels from Robert, Sarkophage (fall?)
Idea: cultic polarisation of the limbs → Calm → Acedia + Melancholy of the soul

Panel 5

[5] Cave of the Magna Mater
Niobe – defrauded (and punished) mother. It is Apollo who kills his children! The pedagogue is present here as a model for Pollaiuolo’s David. Myrrha, who is raped by her own father, in the type of Niobe who flees weeping. 
The furious Medea, on the chariot pulled by snakes with her children, in the act of meditating – without gestures (Rembrandt in mind!)
Woman against man: Orpheus, Pentheus
Orpheus is killed for rejecting the woman – Pentheus for spying on the Maenads in their Dionysian frenzy.
Lamentation over the dead + burial of the dead
Pluto, the god of the Underworld, abducts Proserpine, who thus becomes the goddess of nature in constant renewal. 
What is the depiction on the crater?

Panel 6

[6] Cult – Mysteries
Sacrifice of Polyxena.
Ajax (similar legend) abducts Cassandra, the seer priestess. 
Maenad in a state of thiasotic intoxication.
Cybele (syncretic mystery cult) arrives in Rome on a ship. 
Laocoon, seer and priest, dies. This stands for the whole complex of the sacrificed priest-king.
What does the Conclamatio mean here?
The Pompeian frescoes signify a change [in the representation] of the priest. Why?
Funeral ritual dance.
Dionysian ritual dance.
Why Achilles in Skyros here?

Panel 7

[7] Subjugation and upward countermovement.
Roman triumphal pathos.
The Arch of Constantine (Constantine is a Leitmotif!) the sweeping riding and coronation are depicted in the main reliefs, the sun chariot rising and setting in the medallions. 
Arch of Titus: the seven-armed candelabrum in the Roman Triumph.
Crowning Nike – winged Victory.
(Lifting on shields as Germanic counterpart)
Gemma Augustea – the crowning of the deified emperor. N.B. Raising of the spolia = raising of the cross.
Apotheosis – imperial cult – the raising
Arch of Trajan – History of tradition up to Ghirlandaio
Riding over becomes the “Trajan’s Justice”
Athena grabs the barbarians by the forelock.

Panel 20

[20] Greek faith in the stars in Arabic guise
Abu Mašar
Children of the planets + their professions
Astrological geography
Sacrifice (replacement of the bloody sacrifice).
Why the manuscript with the scorpion and serpent (which Warburg evidently added from an earlier exhibition) – an echo of the third image of Jupiter + Saturn from the Lichtenberger manuscript?

Panel 21

[21] Arabian planets (as Monstra?) on the way to magical practice.
The Saturn with a dark face and shovel
The Saturn with lion’s head and bird’s paws
Sun in the house of Leo (cf. Dürer)
Mars with severed head like Perseus.
Decans= lords of the decade
Planets + signs of the zodiac + configuration of the decans as Astrolabium Magnum by Johannes Angelus
Picatrix – Handbook of Magic
Chosen according to their weight on the memory. Afterlife value. Engram.
Engraphic energy.
Does the sheet from Reg. 1283 belong with the next page?

Panel 22

[22] Spain transmits Arabic science as magical practice (Alfonso El Sabio, Toledo, thirteenthth century at the time of Frederick II in Sicily).
A dice game of the planets. This is how Warburg imagined the use of the Spanish manuscript Reg. 1283
Decans, lunar stations, paranatellonta become individual stellar demons, far from any observation. The sky is populated and flattened for the purposes of the magical practice. 
Daily prophecy in the pages Scorpio + Virgo
Paranatellonta in the three versions, Indian, Persian + Ptolemy is on the [manuscript] Leo page.
Choice of trades on the Moon page
Below prayer and sacrifice – sorcery – under given constellations.
Decans on engraved stones – amulets.
I do not understand the 2 Mars pages from Reg. 1283.

Panel 23

[23] Direct transmission to central Europe.
Scotus’ planets at the same time in Toledo,
Salon of Padua as a giant divinatory calendar. 
Mars – Aries, Jupiter, Aquarius with the trades.
Dante’s world view
Planets of Wenceslas (Scotus)
Ancient demons in Christian guise

Panel 23a

[23a] Fates of destiny
Regular bodies become amulets.
Chifletius – Gnostic symbols
Jean de Meun, Jeu de dodechédrion – Lotto game (Paris 1556) – Representation of the regular body as a cube with the shape and numbers of the universe.
Lorenzo Spirito, Perugia 1492 – Book of fortunes with question + answer principle.
Wheel – Fortune, i.e. symbolising the omnipotent destiny to which man is exposed and is powerless to resist.
Image centre right: I don’t know.

Panel 24

[24] Nordic images of the children of the planets
(German + French)
Direct + unavoidable influence
Differences in representation express different degrees of directness in the planet + child relationship; e.g. the Master of the Hausbuch [Schloss Wolfegg] depicts the planets in the same dimension as humans, but as appearances in the sky. The Tübingen manuscript separates the planets, but includes ‘houses’ (zodiac signs) and vocations in the depiction. The Gotha manuscript clearly separates the spheres from each other. 
Fourth row vertical: I do not understand.
Fifth row, same representation as week (deity of the day)
Paris + Helen does not belong here

Panel 25

[25] The aulic style in movement in the representation of cosmological themes. 
Tempio Malatestiano – side view with the niches in which Sigismondo wanted to place the sarcophagi of illustrious men. 
Plethon (as corpse) transported from somewhere.
Basinio (Hesperis, astrological poem dedicated to Sigismondo). Valturio (Art of war, machines, modern technology).
Monument dedicated to Isotta + tomb for himself with Pallas – temple – triumphal procession.
Muses, Liberal Arts, signs of the zodiac, planets as rulers of the Universe. (Known attributions are not correct) Warburg speculated that the Pimander was the source. The wind that moves the robes, stands for the pneuma that blows in the Universe, inspiration, divine fury; harmony of the spheres.
The history of the tradition of the representation of the planets can be found in some places
(Jupiter Dolichenus)

Panel 26

[26] Tabula Bianchini and the graph with the schematic comparison belong with Panel 27 – Schifanoja. 
The perpetual calendar has, I believe, something to do with Tycho Brahe.
Schifanoja as a calendar.
Are [Panels] 25 and 27 to be contrasted as faith in the stars 1) in reference to space 2) in reference to time?

Panel 27

[27] Here I note that Jupiter is omitted from the Panel. 
Above Venus + Minerva (+ Lohengrin)
then from right to left: Ceres, Cybele, Mercury, Apollo. Below: Vulcan. 
What does this mean, beyond that said in the essay on Schifanoja, I do not know.
I have recently read (I think in Seznec) that Carlo Marsuppini has the Roman gods of the months, as in Palazzo Schifanoja. This needs to be verified! If so, it is an earlier mention.

Panel 28/29

[28/29] Connection to the previous panel is the third band of Schifanoja: ‘life in motion’. 
Giostra with tabula gratulatoria – fair and sellers of medical remedies – hunting – battle – wedding – juggler. 
The idea of Paolo Uccello as a painter of life in motion under the sign of the survival of Antiquity comes into play here: perspective as a means of capturing what passes from a point of view in space. 
The religious background is recalled by means of the man with snakes (see Laocoon – uomo della casa di S. Paolo – immunity to the viper’s bite) and by the legend of the bleeding host (the sign returns to being what it should signify – “the as of the metaphor” is abandoned – incorporation) 
I do not understand Pisanello’s St George.
Connecting element: the horse? Does St George have anything to do with the Florentine festival?
Or is it Perseus who plays a role in it?

Panel 30

[30] The stylistic level of the images prior to its climax (a point maintained throughout the elaboration of the Atlas).
Remote effect of the Cross – creation of the ‘space for the thought of reflection’.
The Byzantine emperor on Pisanello’s medal (comes back later in Rembrandt!).
The occasion of his presence in the West is the Council, which was to unite West and East!
The testimony in Benozzo Gozzoli.
The finding of the true cross as part of the legend. Is it not in Piero della Francesca? Church of Santa Croce. Dream of Constantine by Piero: in hoc signo...
Magic of light to represent the magic of Christianity. Association with Rembrandt.

Panel 31

[31] What do Florentines look for in Flemish painters? Nordic mirror of the soul
Introduction of the Flemish component
1) Portrait – Physiognomy as opposed to the gestural (mimic) language of the South = inner drama instead of outer movement. 
The Italian families, Tani, Portinari, Arnolfini, portrayed by the Flemish.
2) Representation of restrained pain in religious subjects. Inner religiosity.
Alessandra Macinghi Strozzi = è una cosa devota.
3) Contemplation + Concentration: think of St Jerome’s inner meditation. 
Manuscript of the Master of René: contemplation (sentiment of landscape?) Treatment of light. 
In addition Simon Marninon in Naples – probably portrait of the Master of René. Again, Nordic influence.

Panel 32

[32] Coarse humour – grotesque movement –covetousness of the rough man towards the woman
Chessboard – chivalrous
I do not know the manuscript
Dance with woman in the centre
Moreska. Obscene invitation.
Drawing with woman on the pots: I don’t know it
A dance around the desired object also for Quaresima.
The salesman and the monkeys – Monkey dance
Fight for trousers – Fight for the man
Inversion of courtship dance
Association: courtship ritual in birds

Panel 33

[33] The contribution of the North continues
Antiquity alla Franzese
In the illustration of themes from Antiquity
Ovid – Boccaccio
Mythology – Christine de Pisan
Historia Trojana
What themes have been chosen here?
I see: Apollo – battle – dragon – fall, ascent, lament (Hecuba?) Rape (Nessus + Deianira), Orpheus and the women, Orpheus singing, judgement of Paris, rape of Paris, metamorphosis (Apollo – Daphne)
The Three Graces.
Albericus – Juno + Jupiter, Venus + Mercury (doesn’t ring a bell)
Saxl knows about the drawing at the bottom left.
Alexander pertains to the next Panel.

Panel 34

[34] Contribution of the North. 
Tapestry style
I do not understand at all this Panel in detail.
The first three tapestries represent ‘courtly life in the open air’. The group of dogs hunting wild boar comes from Antiquity. Below, peasants at work, see Gesammelte Schriften. The drawings are from the Historia Troiana and are part of the tapestries in the Victoria and Albert Museum. For Alexander, see Gesammelte Schriften.
But what do the Narcissus and the Deposition mean in this context, and how does it all relate?

Panel 35

[35] Equally incomprehensible in the association of ideas. 
Other French versions of mythology, Ovide moralisé.
Themes: Hercules – Jason – Paris (Judgement + Rape) – Achilles (Sacrifice of Polyxena) – Pyrrhus – Proserpine. 
What is the Sun doing here, what are the Graces doing here?

Panel 36

[36] Pesaro 1476
Penetration of all mythology in Nordic guise into the culture of the Italian feast.
Printed description

Panel 37

[37] Liberation of the body from the constraint of clothing.
Movement becomes expressible through the naked body. However, how does one tame pagan wildness? 
Giusto da Padova argues that this process is all about antiquity “Colla Firenze degli anteriori”. On which subjects is this allowed?
1) Hercules as the prototype of strength
a) Serpent?
b) Antaeus (‘movement all’antica' = return to the origins) 
c) Rape and punishment. Moralised interpretation. Allegorical character preserved by use, under cover and on the armour. i.e. authorisation comes from the content of the image.
2) Use permitted through distancing from the content of the image = grisaille
a) Dancing putti, physical exuberance on the Madonna’s throne, but as frieze, as for the dancers in Arcetri (comparison with tapestries) 
b) Grisaille: crucifixion, Hercules, Pilate,
c) Sculptures of pagan gods as symbols of the conquest over them: presentation of Mary in the temple, communion of St. Jerome
(N.B. Triptych of St Jerome as Hercules, Perseus, Constantine, Paris in different functions, i.e. cell = contemplation = communion = incarnation)
Only the abduction of Helen is not entirely clear to me.
Only under the keyword “movement”? No
Example of a naked body! Parallel with the Rape of Nessus? Doesn’t seem impossible to me.

Panel 38

[38] The pictorial context and style of the “Otto prints” and early Florentine copper engravings, “The liberation of temperament and its taming”.
A) Modest love
1) Courtly + emblematically veiled in the Medici circle. The protagonists + 4 rounds (not “Spero”)
2) The punished Cupid: the Antique (must be placed first), the engraving, Signorelli. But also Nastagio degli innocenti, punishment for merciless rejection (eating the heart fits into this context).
3) Reason for triumph. Engraving= Amor. Botticelli in what sense?
Is Paris inserted here as a “famous pair of lovers”?
Below modesty, above exuberance as frieze. 
Engraving of Venus – justification of dependence on the stars.
Desire for an object. Fight over the trousers + Quaresima are also valid in Italy. 
Dependence on Nordic models.
B) Hunting + outdoor activities. Group of dogs,
vedi supra. The type of the Wild Man as outcome a contrario of courtly society. Bacchus could also be relevant, meaning Theseus + the labyrinth.
(in addition to the fact that the figured Florentine Chronicle stylistically belongs here).

Panel 39

[39] The Realm of Venus
Engraving of Venus with dancing couple (see Gesammelte Schriften)
A) Grasping and B) Fleeing in love
A) Decreasing and B) Increasing the distance between the lover and the beloved
For A. Apollo + Daphne: pursuit and, at the moment of contact, transformation and thus withdrawal. Different stages of approach up to Luini (?) where the chase is replaced by the gaze.
For B.: Pallas-Venus 1) The restraint “Spero” in the Otto print. Only hands touching. 2) Pallas the Chaste as goddess of desire in Giuliano’s amorous Giostra (Impresa) 3) Venus-Diana on the reverse of the medal 4) Pallas in the pose of Venus in the tapestry and drawing 5) Tarsia, see Gesammelte Schriften 6) Pallas + centaur by Botticelli, allegory of chastity 7) The plucked Cupid in the drawing by Buontalenti. 
The metamorphosis of the flower, the laurel of Apollo (Lorenzo-Lauro), Flora, the Abundance with the cornucopia, the flowery garments (also of Pallas) = the return to floridity and fertility in the sense of the myth of Proserpine. At the same time, of course, the formal liberation of the body in movement. The amplification of gestures such as running, dancing, flying.

Panel 40

[40] The frenetic movement, the rapture, the thiasotic procession, originate from the Bacchic circle as seen in the medallions with Bacchus in the Medici Palace and the engraving with Bacchus. The exuberant rapture. Ovid’s Metamorphoses at the Villa Farnesina: friezes as a passing procession. The mythical background of the idyllic tale is revealed in a gestural language charged with pathos. 
A turning point is in the run and run on the theme of the Massacre of the Innocents: the bloodlust of the soldiers, the desperation of the mothers. 
The Story: Pliny (?) in Gianbattista Marino; child sucking his mother’s blood along with milk.
Description of the image? See if the various examples of depiction of infanticide have different meanings. What, for example, does the terracotta relief mean?
Marcantonio Raimondi is statuesque and therefore distant. Architectural relief or scenography?
I don’t know: the penultimate figure on the bottom left and the second on the top right.

Panel 41

[41] Excluding the desperate mother of Panel 40: the woman as the one who performs the sacrifice + object of the sacrifice, executioner + saviour
1) Medea as infanticide, her story in manuscripts + early woodcuts. 
The group of Medea leading her children to the sacrifice: in Agostino di Duccio children – salvation – wanderer; in Ercole de’ Roberti 1) Hannibal’s wife (?) rescuing her children from the burning house; in Ercole de’ Roberti 2) spectator of the transport of the Cross [in addition, the same role in Mantegna's Triumph of Caesar and Caritas!]
Medea as sorceress on a chariot pulled by snakes as grisaille in Signorelli’s Flagellation.
From Medea as sorceress we move on to the Vestals (?) in the Uffizi drawing, to Hecate as Ninfa in the bronze, to the Cavalcade of Nordic Witches in the Paris drawing.
2) The Maenads kill Orpheus – woman’s revenge on man.

Panel 41a

[41a] Laocoon, God-priest, King-priest, priest-sacrifice, etc.
See Frazer. 
Adam by Filippino Lippi with the head of Laocoon [N.B. before the group was found].
N.B. does the group appear in Paul’s Conversion?
What is the centaur for?
Archaeological use of the group.
Medieval representation before the discovery of the group. 
Serpent as connection between Adam + Laocoon
In Ripa as “Dolore”

Panel 42

[42] Lamentation on the Dead God.
The dismemberment of Pentheus’ limbs by the Maenads he had spied becomes: 
1) Donatello’s Healing, Miracle of St. Anthony
2) Lamentation over the private death of Tornabuoni Sassetti (the “all’antica” style allows an unrestrained expression of grief, which church discipline had forbidden)
3) Burial of Christ
Burial in Cossa (?) through the Etruscan mirror
The Maenad becomes a figure of mourning
Carpaccio represents the overcoming of unbridled grief with the inclusion of the rhythm of decay + return of nature.

Panel 43

[43] Ghirlandaio
1) Mirror of the Soul, see essays Gesammelte Schriften
Triumphal Arch and Ruined Temple in the Adoration
Assimilation of the Nordic element in Benedetto Ghirlandaio. 
Rhetorical gesture versus retreat + contemplation in Botticelli’s Saint Augustine and on the other hand Nordic element in Ghirlandaio’s Saint Jerome

Panel 44

[44] Ghirlandaio
Ancient component
Pathos of mourning 1) of reliefs with Roman triumphal pathos 2) in the grisaille
1) Centaur, Maenad gesture, portrait medallion form
2) model of the reliefs on the Arch of Constantine, direct copies from where? 
Hand-to-hand battle, being trampled under the hooves of horses: ancient gem, sarcophagus in the Codex Escurialensis (Ghirlandaio*) in the Battle of Anghiari. 
*Representation of Phaeton! The Fall as counterpart to the Triumph? Phaeton’s chariot and the chariot on the grisaille
Nike crowning as the Ninfa ingrediens
Is Virgil intended as the teacher of all the pathos of battle and triumph, or only as the source for the Venus Virgo?
The Tornabuoni medal and sarcophagus, in terms of their content, go here + lead to the next Panel.

Panel 45

[45] Ghirlandaio
“The superlatives of gestural language” in the Tornabuoni circle. 
Nativity scene: Burden of Clothes + Ninfa 
Zechariah: the figure of the child in the drawing is interpreted by Warburg as the loss of a son. 
Perhaps the entire panel as “The Sacrifice of the Son”?
This theme belongs with the whole series in the top left – below the Battle on Horseback + Romani-Sabini, indicating where the formal language comes from, the two large central images, the Blood Offering in Bellini, the Massacre of the Innocents by Matteo di Giovanni + in the bottom right Muzio Scevola by Ghirlandaio because of the grisaille in Bellini, but weak. 
What should the Resurrection, the Battle of Anghiari, the medal of Bertoldo di Giovanni with the Bonus Eventus mean?
Pietro Martire only because of the fleeing monk?

Panel 46

[46] Tornabuoni – Ninfa
Nike in Agilulfo – the hasty entrance into the childbirth scene, “the bearer of gifts”
The Tornabuoni’s repertoire of themes from the works of Lucrezia Tornabuoni. Tobias + the angel, Judith, Ninfa, St. John the Baptist patron saint of Florence
Venus Virgo medal, Villa Lemmi frescoes, portrait + large fresco with nativity scene with the figure of Giovanna Tornabuoni degli Albizzi, who is related to Lucrezia Tornabuoni in Medici, mother of Lorenzo. 
The offering, the receiving, the offering of salvation, the giving of refreshment.
The motif of chastity on the medal does not really fit here

Panel 47

[47] Tobias – Judith (Salome) 
Protect + friendly accompany in the same formal configuration as kill – transport.
Process of protection + Process of destruction. 
It is as if there were two versions in the Tobias motif: twelve-year-old Jesus at the temple + Returning home – Tobias himself. The connection is the accompanying by protecting. Tobias in his departure is accompanied by the angel (in Florence, a function for the journey of the young merchant apprentices).
The return home from the temple is a final protection before separation, but separation is already in it. Agostino di Duccio’s relief is a farewell (from whom to whom?)
Judith – Salome = “Headhunters”
The menadic dance with Salome
The carrying of the head like that of the basket of fruit in the nativity scene. 
Donatello’s controlled gesture, wildness only in the relief of the putti.

Panel 48

[48] Fortune
Sphere – tuft – sail = man’s progressive will to intervene in destiny. Turning point with the dream of Enea Silvio [Piccolomini].
Here each individual representation has to be analysed + the series must be arranged historically. 
The whole is linked to the essay on Palazzo Strozzi – Sassetti. 
Ghirlandaio train of thought seems to me: the ‘Roman triumphal pathos’ offers models for:
1) Assassination + manslaughter + counter-defence (infanticide)
2) Opposite ways of giving (Nike → Nymph)
3) Heroic grandeur (Bellini + renewed Faith)
4) Offer of protection (Tobias + return from the temple)
[N.B.! How do we get to Judith + Salome here?]
5) The haste of fate + the interruption by man’s intervention
Then with Mantegna comes the triumphant self-affirmation.

Panel 49

[49] Mantegna is a luminous as Piero.
In Piero the void that creates space in the continuous procession (the cross) and the light from above. 
With Mantegna, the measured step 1) of standing with dignity 2) contrasts with the rapid forward running + dancing of the Florentines.
Antiquity penetrates into the image only through certain themes, while in other ways it is distanced in the grisaille representation, i.e. archaeologically, as something that has already been imprinted and fixed.
1) Triumphal procession 2) Camera degli Sposi; 3) Infanticide in the Judgement of Solomon, grisaille 4) Arrival of Cybele, the “Great Mother” as cult image in Rome, grisaille 
5) Motif of Tuccia’s Chastity, grisaille
Grisailles with Christian themes in friezes, etc.
The exuberance allowed in mythological prints

Panel 50/51

[50/51] Fluttering robes + dance script
a) in the cosmological play of the spheres
b) in the Muses versus the Arts
Pneuma – Song
The Ninfa not domestic as in Ghirlandaio but cosmological

Panel 52

[52] The ethical side of the Roman pathos: Trajan’s Justice – Scipio’s Continence.
Trajan – formally rescuing the pagan (Gregorio + Dante): inversion of the riding over the enemy – submissive province

Panel 53

[53] Descendants of the Muses
The Parnassus stands for harmony, ascent through inspiration, music, cosmology + harmony of the spheres: belongs with Pesaro miniature, Lippi + Galatea.
The Muses, however, also include the pose with the head resting, symbolising contemplation, meditation + solitude. Linked to this is the School of Athens.

Panel 54

[54] Chigi
means the belief in the horoscope, an inhabited sky, but governed in a Christian way.
Direction: upwards

Panel 55


The extension of the feeling for the cosmos to nature (no longer just the higher regions).
Judgement of Paris [sarcophagi], the earth gods, earthbound in a semi-recumbent pose, gazing up at the appearance of the higher gods in the sky.
Marc Anton engraving, the nymph turns out towards the viewer, begins to become self-aware. Lying naked in the open air begins to become an end in itself – healing fountain. The superiors gods disappear – painting in Tivoli. Carracci – outdoor scene. Giorgione – idyll, music, nudity of some people, others clothed.
Rubens – Courtly people figures relax in the landscape. Manet – plein-air, the bourgeois reconquest of nature.
Extension in space.

Panel 56

[56] Rise + fall, upper + lower, coronation + downfall. The aspiration and its reverse, the raising of the spolia becomes the erection of the cross in Filippino Lippi, 
in Michelangelo the scourging column, in Schongauer’s Last Judgement becomes the temptation (in the opposite direction to the fall) + fall of Phaeton. 
Phaeton belongs with the myth of the Sun (cf. Mithras and Alexander)

Panel 57

[57] Migration of the planets to the north. See the essay.
Dissemination by the printing press

Panel 58

[58] Dürer + astrology
Gallic disease + zodiac – microcosm – man – flyer!
Personal horoscope in the portrait
Sol Justitiae – Sun in Leo
River deities as symbol of earthboundness.
Melancholia, see essay Luther.
Actually pertinent to this [series] is Dürer’s self-portrait in which he points to his spleen and writes “here it hurts”. The origins of natural science. Way of thinking – search for the smallest + nearest cause.
Sepulchral slab – melancholic pose as introspection.

Panel 60

[60] The series that begins now is linked to the representation of the triumphal procession – Triumph. The procession during festivals that develops into a frontal stage. At the same time as a mythological figure, Neptune appears (and as author Virgil with “Quos ego”), symbolising the progressive dominion over the sea in the age of discovery. 
Linked to this is the concept of Fortune as a wind that can be caught in the sail and thus made available, appearing unpredictable but nevertheless propelling the boat. 
This is why Neptune is the first of the “servant gods” (the metaphor comes from the Pesaro feast of 1477 where the gods served, so to speak, at the banquet).
Water games during festivals as a play of technical progress. 
From a historical point of view, the series is connected with the Medici festivals; in Florence (Gualterotti), goes with Catherine de’ Medici’s children in France (below left Henry II in Lyon), and from there to Holland (top centre).
I have to look up all the other depictions first.

Panel 61-64

[61-64] I think this [Panel] should become something like “The Realm of Neptune” (cf. “The Realm of Venus” in the fifteenthh century). Link to “Quos ego”. Or also: Neptune + his entourage.
However, I can only think of something that relates to Frans Francken’s painting: the culmination of Neptune’s “servitude” as he and his retinue swimming into the throne room = i.e. the distance of the metaphor has been completely lost. 
There is, of course, a large gap here.
Late sixteenth century, early seventeenth century,
The politics of power of the Valois + Habsburgs.
Highest moment of court life.

Panel 70

[70] Rembrandt and the Baroque
Opponents at play: Rubens and the Theatre
1) Sea voyage (linked to Neptune) and Fortuna; the disappearance into the distance, the unknown, the unattainable.
2) Rape of Proserpine; the journey to the underworld. Also Orpheus in a different role compared to Mantegna + Dürer.
3) Sacrifice of Iphigenia – Polyxena
How does it link with: infanticide + adoration (with frontal not striding Ninfa)?

Panel 71

[71]The election of the hero by elevation on the shield.
The opposite of apotheosis = election by a power from above (elevation on the shield from below)
In the theatre – with Rembrandt’s opponents + rivals. Art Officiel. 
Warburg considered the raising on the shield a Germanic form of homage. Otto I or II – from here to the Paris Psalter?
Who (in the same period?) chooses the same form for Charles I of England. 
In Warburg’s note – in addition to the raising on the shield there is also the oath on the sword.

Panel 72

[72] The mystery of the liturgical supper. 
Rhetorical in Otto von Van Veen, Ovens + Tempesta.
Contemplative + intense in Rembrandt, because it includes the Last Supper of Christ.
The idea that collective participation in the meal creates communion – pursued in modern mass and student goliardic banquets. 
Philemon + Baucis are relevant to the same context – serving the stranger at one’s table and thus welcoming him into the community.
An idea of a Messiah?
Samson + Delilah, I know, means headhunter – Ninfa – who does not bring something but rushes out of the picture in the opposite direction. But why is she here? Because of the sword (cf. the detail)?
For the blinding? (Claudio Civile is monocle).
I don’t know.

Panel 73

[73] This seems to me to consists of two parts: 
1) The bridge scene, which must have had a special significance in the Batavian war of liberation, since it appears on the frontispiece of Berkhey. 
2) The scene of children, most probably children who are protected or should be protected by their fathers’ struggle for freedom. The detail of the drawing builds a bridge to the Massacre of the Innocents.
Medea as murderer of the children in the theatre – in contrast to the whole [the whole Panel].
Absence of mimicry in Rembrandt – the pensive + pondering Medea.

Panel 74

[74] Effective remote action
In Masaccio’s shadow healing, all the magic of the contact is lost. Likewise the healing of the sick in Rembrandt + the armouring of the captain which also happens by sight. Peter + John have the same narration of Masaccio? 
The similarity of artistic means in Masaccio. Raphael + Rembrandt: the large draped figure in the circle of Christ. Recourse to Pisanello. 
In Rembrandt the light.
The same principle of distancing in the ethical field: Scipio’s Continence (contrasted, for example, with the pursuit + seizing in Apollo – Daphne, etc.).

Panel 75

[75] The “disinterested” consideration of the human body in contrast to:
1) the miraculous (Lycosthenes) 2) the magical for the purpose of divination (Democritus + Heraclitus) 3) the emphasis on sentiment (funeral lamentation) 4) incorporation (eating corpses)
Democritus + Heraclitus as representatives of a turning point. The divinatory liver becomes an object of (philosophical) contemplation.
Anatomy retains the formal schema of lament and burial (just like Anglicus’ medical engraving)

Panel 76

[76] Tobias’ motif becomes towards home
– Return from the Temple 
Elsheimer – Rembrandt
The Antique is still effective in Rembrandt’s forerunner (Pieter van der Borcht?) – Niobe = grieving mother. The Ancient is also in Rubens – Juno figure
The language of the gaze in Pieter van der Borch – but in Rembrandt it is the only mean, without the rhetorical language of the moving clothes.

Panel 77

[77] The entry of pathos formulas into the gestural language of everyday life.
1) Photography of everyday events: golf player = headhunter
2) Advertisement: fish = Tobias, 4711 = Ninfa
“Domestic fairy” = Nike
3) Postage stamp: Neptune in Barbados, maenad in France, Arethusa where? (Historical derivation from Barbados can be documented: seal of Charles I)
4) Monument in the park: Hindenburg under the protection of the eagle, instead of being carried by the eagle as in the apotheosis of the Roman emperor.
not related: Delacroix
1) Medea
2) The Plague reproposes the motif of the child who continues to seek nourishment from its dead mother.

Panel 78

[78] Lateran Pacts:
Reconciliation between secular + ecclesiastical power, between Antiquity + Christianity, “laurel + palm of martyrdom”.
Renunciation of the papacy’s possession of land, except the symbolic “only Peter’s tomb”.

Panel 79

[79] The Mass as a claim to power.
The true Chair of St Peter (with ancient mythology + astrology) and the pompous exuberance in Bernini.
Bolsena Mass – relapse into literal interpretation of transubstantiation as miracle. Julius II “the warrior pope”.
Mystical transubstantiation in Botticelli – Girolamo’s Last Communion.
Abusive misinterpretation of the function of the metaphor: sale of the host + profanation of the host (ritual murder).
Display of magnificence to the masses – mass in St Peter’s Square: the triumphal procession with oriental palms. 
The Swiss Guard (as in the time of Julius II). The papal army. 
The (unauthorised) spiritual aid to the victim of the train disaster (bottom right). 
In the centre: the Pope as news (cf. Doktorfeier)
What is the point of the depictions of Japanese torture? 
Why Giotto’s Speranza? It has something to do with the host but I cannot find any connection.

My warmest thanks to Monica Centanni and Maurizio Ghelardi for their linguistic and conceptual revision and exchange during the writing of this contribution.

  • AWM II
    A. Warburg, Fra antropologia e storia dell’arte. Saggi, conferenze e frammenti, a cura di M. Ghelardi, Torino 2021.
  • AWO I.2
    A. Warburg, La rinascita del paganesimo antico e altri scritti (1917-1929), a cura di M. Ghelardi, Torino 2007.
  • Diario romano
    A. Warburg, G. Bing, Diario romano (1928-1929), a cura di M. Ghelardi, Torino 2005.
  • Rappl et al. 1993
    W. Rappl et. al. (hrsg. von), “Aby Warburg Mnemosyne”. Eine Ausstellung der Transmedialen Gesellschaft Daedalus in der Akademie der bildenden Künste (Wien 25. Januar-13. März 1993), Hamburg 1994.
  • Seminario Mnemosyne 2012-
    Seminario Mnemosyne, coordinato da M. Centanni, Aby Warburg. Mnemosyne Atlas, edizione digitale “La Rivista di Engramma” (2012-).
  • Warburg [1914] 2001
    A. Warburg, The Entry of the Idealizing Classical Style in the Paintings of Early Renaissance, translated by M. Rampley, in Art History as Cultural History. Warburg’s Project, edited by R. Woodfield, London/New York 2001.
  • Warburg [1927] 2012
    A. Warburg, From the Arsenal to the Laboratory, edited by C.J. Johnson and C. Wedepohl, “West 86th” 19/1 (Spring-Summer 2012), 106-124.
Bibliographical References

We present hitherto unpublished handwritten notes made by Gertrud Bing after the Kulturwissenschaftliche Bibliothek Warburg relocated to London, possibly in the mid-1930s. The notes, which were written in two notebooks now housed at the Warburg Institute Archive, provide a synopsis of each Panel of the Mnemosyne Atlas. They include indications for the completion, editing, and publication of the Atlas. In her Introduction, Giulia Zanon attempts to contextualise this invaluable testimony through the study of letters and documents, dating from the final months of 1929, which were for both Warburg and Bing the most intense and productive period of work on the Atlas. She also considers the period following Warburg's death and the subsequent abrupt interruption of the Atlas project. The aim of this contribution is to emphasise the considerable significance of this document both for the hermeneutics of Mnemosyne and its publishing history. It constitutes evidence of the unwavering commitment to publish the Bilderatlas as part of a larger project to publish Warburg’s corpus.

keywords | Gertrud Bing; Aby Warburg; Mnemosyne Atlas; Gesammelte Schriften; Teubner.

questo numero di Engramma è a invito: la revisione dei saggi è stata affidata al comitato editoriale e all’international advisory board della rivista

doi: https://doi.org/10.25432/1826-901X/2024.211.0020