Aug 12, 2009

Pyramus and Thisbe

Pyramus and Thisbe

c. 1510

Hans Wechtlin

(German, 1480/85–after 1526)

Chiaroscuro woodcut

John L. Severance Fund 1950.396

Catalogue raisonné: Geisberg IV,p.1457



In Metamorphoses, written by the Roman poet Ovid (43 BC–AD 17), the parents of Pyramus and Thisbe forbid them to marry, so the young lovers conspire to meet at a mulberry tree beside a spring. Thisbe arrives first, but flees when she sees a lion fresh from a kill. She accidentally drops her veil, which the lion bloodies while playing with it. When Pyramus arrives, he finds the bloody veil, falsely concludes that Thisbe had been killed, and plunges his sword into his side. Here, Thisbe discovers her dead lover. Wechtlin borrowed the figures of the star-crossed lovers from an engraving by Marcantonio Raimondi, but changed the natural spring into an ornamental fountain topped with a statue of cupid.

See also
PR - Chiaroscuro
Type of artwork: 

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