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Spectators and readers

Borghini’s approach, shared by many other poets and artists, inevitably raises questions about how far spectators and readers were able to fathom the meaning of the symbols that confronted them.   In some ways, Festival books themselves provide answers.   They explained the images, discussed their import and spelled out their application to present affairs.   In addition, great artists were often involved and the boldness and clarity of their designs aided understanding.   Leonardo da Vinci invented the floats that processed through Florence in 1515 at the coming of the Pope;  1,726 artists were employed to stage the entry for prince Philip into Antwerp in 1549;  Bronzino and Giorgio Vasari invented the machines to celebrate the wedding of the Duke at Florence in 1565; Archimboldo masterminded the festivities for a royal wedding in Vienna in 1572; and Peter Paul Rubens designed all the fabulous arches in Antwerp in 1635 for the Archduke’s entry.

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