Theology, part of a set of allegories of the liberal arts and the sciences

Etienne Delaune French
After Marcantonio Raimondi Italian
After Raphael (Raffaello Sanzio or Santi) Italian

Not on view

Engraving, part of a series of six plates with allegories of three liberal arts and three sciences, personified by female figures surrounded by grotesque motifs. These allegories are endowed with attributes that somewhat correspond to the science or the art they evoke; the inner frame of the scene is flanked by scrolling motifs of different types. This print represents Theology, personified by a female figure, standing in a kind of niche, her head turning to the left. She waves a fire sword with her right hand and holds a lantern with the left hand. In front of her, on the left, at her feet, are two books and an olive branch.

This figure does not have any of the traditional attributes of Theology; the sword, for example, is usually an attribute for Justice or Rhetoric. The lantern is usually associated with dispelling darkness, a sense that might be in agreement with the subject of the print. The oil lamps that burn at the sides of Theology might have a similar sense, unless they represent a metaphor for knowlegne, deriving from Vigilance, of which they are attributes. The two books might be the Bible: Old and New Testament, which are also personified in the print by two old men, sitting under Theology: one, on the left, with the tablets of the law, and the other, on the right, with a cross and a book.

On either side is an olive branch with a trophy of arms and a dove, the one on the left also holding an olive branch in its beak, symbolizing peace and reconciliation. It might also be an allusion to the contemporary religious conflicts and, consequently, to Delaune's desire for their reconciliation. Similarly, the two rams on either side of Theology might also represent the confrontation between Catholics and Protestants, as are the two old men, who seem to be arguing about their doctrinal point of view.

The figure of Theology in this print is closely related to a representation of Faith in a print by Marcantonio Raimondi after Raphael.

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