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(Italian, 15th century)
Engraving, hand-colored with gold
Dudley P. Allen Fund 1924.432.27
Catalogue raisonné: Hind E.I. 27a
This engraving is part of the group “C” named Liberal Arts. Conceptually, the liberal arts descended from classical antiquity, and were divided into the Trivium (Grammar, Rhetoric, and Dialectic or Logic) and the Quadrivium (Music, Geometry, Arithmetic, and Astronomy). In the Tarocchi set the total number was risen to ten, with the addition of the three disciplines (Poetry, Philosophy, and Theology). The liberal arts denoted knowledge or skills considered necessary to participate in a free society. By the late Middle Ages, they began to be represented in the visual arts as womanlike allegories.
Here, Poesia (Poetry) is personified as as a young female figure crowned with a laurel wreath. She is seated in front of Mount Parnassus, next to a fountain. This latter exemplifies the Greek Castalian font, believed by poets to be a source of inspiration. While playing the flute—a symbol of eloquence—Poetry irrigates the earth with inspirational waters taken from the Castalian spring.
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