Dec 28, 2015
May 20, 2013

Allegory of Life

Allegory of Life


Giorgio Ghisi

(Italian, 1520–1582)


Support: Cream(3) laid paper, mounted to laid paper, with an approximately 2.5 cm. wide strip of laid paper applied to each of the four edges (over edges of primary support)

Image: 38.1 x 54.4 cm (15 x 21 7/16 in.); Secondary Support: 43.1 x 59.4 cm (16 15/16 x 23 3/8 in.)

Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. Fund 1985.37

Catalogue raisonné: Lewis&Boorsch 28 iia/vi

State: iia/vi


Did you know?

Ghisi was trained in the creation of luxury metalwork, specifically armor, informing his highly skilled and complex engraving of the copperplate used to make this print.


This engraving presents a complex allegory whose complete meaning remains unclear, although the plaques at the feet of the man and woman may provide one clue. The inscriptions come from the sixth book of Virgil’s Aeneid: "He who sits unfortunate will sit forever," and "Do not yield to adversities, but go out to meet them bravely." The print’s details do not correspond directly to any episode from Virgil, although book six, in which Aeneas descends into the underworld, is an allegory of human life. A similar theme could be suggested here, communicating an essentially hopeful message of overcoming tribulation.

See also
PR - Engraving
Type of artwork: 

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