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(Italian, 15th century)
Dudley P. Allen Fund 1924.432.30
Catalogue raisonné: Hind E.I. 30
This engraving is part of the group “C” named Liberal Arts. Conceptually, the liberal arts descended from classical antiquity, and were divided into the Trivium (Grammar, Rhetoric, and Dialectic or Logic) and the Quadrivium (Music, Geometry, Arithmetic, and Astronomy). In the Tarocchi set the total number was risen to ten, with the addition of the three disciplines (Poetry, Philosophy, and Theology). The liberal arts denoted knowledge or skills considered necessary to participate in a free society. By the late Middle Ages, they began to be represented in the visual arts as womanlike allegories.
Here, Theologia (Theology) is personified as a half-length pregnant female figure in profile. A bearded visage of an old man is placed on the back of the graceful woman’s head. These two profiles embody the ability to observe the heavens and to look at the earth, respectively. Theology is set on her attribute—a starry sphere—which epitomizes the study of celestial things.
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