Description This plaque is part of a series whose designs were based upon the woodcut illustrations of an edition of Virgil, "Opera," edited by Sebastian Brant and printed by Johann Grüninger in Strasbourg, September 9, 1502 (65th illustration, fol. 262). The same cuts appeared in an edition issued at Lyons in 1517 by Sacon. The plaque depicts a scene from the "Aeneid," (IV, vv. 236-254). To comprehend the successive moments of the scene, which are confused and sometimes misunderstood in the representation, it is indispensable to refer to the text of Vergil. On the left is seen Avernus, entrance to the lower world, near Cumae, in Campania. "A deep cave there was, yawning wide and vast, shingly, and sheltered by dark lake and woodland gloom, over which no flying creatures could safely wing their way; such a vapor from those black jaws poured into the over-arching heaven [whence the Greeks spoke of Avernus the "birdless place"]. Here first the priestess [the Sibyl] set in line four dark-backed heifers...plucking the topmost bristles from between the horns, [she] lays them on the sacred fire for first offering, calling aloud on Hecate...others set knives to the throat and catch the warm blood in bowls. Aeneas himself slays with the sword a black-fleeced lamb to [Night and Terra]. Then, for the Stygian King [Pluto] he inaugurates an altar by night..."
|6/03/1964||Examination||examined for condition|
Provenance William Williams Hope, Rushton Hall, Northamptonshire [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; William Williams Hope Sale, Christie's, London, June 14, 1849, lot 110; Octavius E. Coope, Brentwood, Essex, 1849, by purchase; Octavius E. Coope Sale, Christie's, London, May 3, 1910, lot 55; Jacques Seligmann, Paris, by purchase; Henry Walters, Baltimore, 1910, by purchase; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters, 1910
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