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(Italian, 15th century)
Dudley P. Allen Fund 1924.432.42
Catalogue raisonné: Hind E.I. 42a
This engraving is part of the Tarocchi group marked with the letter “A”, and named Firmaments of the Universe. This series comprises the seven planets from the classical astronomy (Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn) and the three celestial spheres that separate them from the Supreme Entity (Prima Causa) from which everything was originated.
Here, Mercurio (Mercury) is personified as a full-length male figure, in profile to the left, while blowing a flute. Mercury appears as Hermes, the Greek messenger of gods. In his right hand holds up a caduceus, a herald staff at the top of which are two intertwined winged snakes. He also wears a petasos and a pair of talaria, respectively winged hat and shoes. At his feet is a cock—animal sacred to him—and the decapitated full-eyed head of Argo. Mercury was believed to be both the son of Saturn and the brother of Jupiter, and the second in the order of planets.
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