Mars, from a set of six pagan divinities with grotesques on black grounds

Etienne Delaune French

Not on view

Engraving, part of a set of six representations of pagan divinities with grotesque motifs on black grounds, created by Étienne Delaune before 1573. This print represents Mars, standing on profile in equilibrium on a vase. He wears a helmet and cuirasse, holds a sword on his right hand and lifts a shield with his left hand. Two falcons (?) are perched on hangings on the upper part of the composition, likely symbolizing virtue, which is also recalled by two wreaths of laurel, held by two cupids on the sides of Mars. Behind the cupids are two fuming vases, likely symbolizing the vanity of terrestrial things. Most elements of the composition can be linked to ideas of love and to Venus: two cupids with interlacing legs by the sides of Mars, another cupid head at the bottom of the composition, and two dolphins, attributes of love and venus, which frame the lower sides of the print, under the fuming vases. In-between the dolphins are two female satyrs, possibly symbolizing evil, vice, and sensuousness. The idea of vice is strengthened by the presenve of two wolves, between Mars and the cupids, symbols of wrath and gluttony, the falcons of gluttony, the urns of vanity, and the satyrs of luxury.

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