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Highlights: Weil Gifts

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Image of The Poet Virgil Suspended in a Basket

Lucas van Leyden (aka Lucan Van Leyden)
Dutch, about 1489/1494–1533

The Poet Virgil Suspended in a Basket


Object Type: Print
Creation Place: Northern Europe, Dutch
9 9/16 in. x 7 1/2 in. (24.29 cm x 19.05 cm)
Medium and Support: Engraving on paper
Accession Number: 1999.0007.0037

Credit Line: Gift of Jean K. Weil in memory of Adolph "Bucks" Weil, Jr.

As with many of Van Leyden's compositions, he has placed the central event referenced in the print's title in the background of the composition. In this case, the story refers to a medieval legend that the poet Virgil was the victim of a prank played upon him by the Roman emperor's daughter. His infatuation led her to promise to raise him up to her bedchamber in a basket, but instead she left him stranded halfway up the wall to be ridiculed by passersby the following morning.

The artist's mastery of the engraving technique is shown in the variations of tone and light that he creates simply by adjusting the density of the cross-hatching. Through this technique he clearly delineates the fore, middle, and background of this elaborate composition, and creates a highly realistic recession into space.

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