Music, from a set of allegories of the arts and sciences with grotesque motifs on black grounds

Etienne Delaune French

Not on view

Engraving, part of a series of allegories of the arts and sciences with grotesque motifs, executed on black grounds by Étienne Delaune before 1573. This print consists of an allegory of Music, represented by a female figure standing under an arch formed by two branches of laurel, her head on profile, looking to the right, and playing the lute. At her feet are the pipes of an organ and bellows. The lute and the organ are common attributes of music and, in his various allegories of Music, Delaune represents her playing different instruments. The composition of the print evokes a temple, upon which are two sphinxes: the one on the left has the head of a bearded man with horns. On the lower part of the print are two figures with winged female torsoes, scrolling leaves in place of the lower body, and with the head of a bearded man. The presence of these figures might represent the ambiguous character of music, as both a tool for transcendence but also a symbol of sensuousness. Under the sphinges are two bats (likely symbolizing fastness with their wings) and, further below, two snails (symbols of slowness); together, they might represent an idea of moderation.

No image available

Open Access

As part of the Met's Open Access policy, you can freely copy, modify and distribute this image, even for commercial purposes.


Public domain data for this object can also be accessed using the Met's Open Access API.