Arithmetic, 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 Arithmetic, represented by a female figure walking towards the left, in a three-quarter back angle, her face looking to the viewer. She holds a measuring rod on her right hand and an hourglass on the left, possibly symbolizing a fraction of time, a symbol used frequently by Delaune in representations of this science. At her feet are books, a tablet filled with numbers, and branches of olive or laurel leaves. The measuring rod (or a ruler) and the tablet are traditional attributes of Arithmetic; the branches are more common attributes for virtue, and are used in this allegory to link the science with virtue. On either side of Arithmetic is a bearded man, each holding a sign, and looking up towards the female figure. It is likely that the two men represent ancient mathematicians, possibly Pythagoras and Diophantus.

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