Minerva, from a suite of ornament designs with grotesques and deities

Etienne Delaune French

Not on view

Engraving, part of a series of six oval plates with ornament designs with grotesque motifs and divinities, designed by Étienne Delaune before 1559. This print represents Minerva, standing on a canopy flanked above by a grotesque mask in a shell motif, edowed with her traditional attributes: a helmet on her head, a spear on her left hand, and a shield reclining on her right leg. To either side of the goddess is an olive branch, both an attribute of Minerva and a symbol of peace, and two urns with overflowing water, likely recalling the ewer of Temperance. These urns pour water on two sphinxes, symbols of vigilance, knowledge and intelligence, which stand under Minerva's canopy. On either side of the goddess is also a leaping winged deer, an unusual attribute for Minerva: they might be symbols for prompt action, although the meaning intended by their opposition to two snails, diagonally beneath them in the print, is unclear.

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