The Lament of the Art of Painting

Artist: Cornelis Cort (Netherlandish, Hoorn ca. 1533–1578 Rome)

Artist: after Federico Zuccaro (Zuccari) (Italian, Sant'Angelo in Vado 1540/42–1609 Ancona)

Date: 1579

Medium: Engraving; two plates printed on two sheets

Dimensions: Sheet (upper plate): 14 1/4 × 21 1/8 in. (36.2 × 53.7 cm)
Sheet (lower plate): 14 11/16 × 21 1/8 in. (37.3 × 53.7 cm)

Classification: Prints

Credit Line: Charles Z. Offin Fund, 1988

Accession Number: 1988.1086


While the Muses were initially associated with poets, scholars, and patrons of the arts, it was not long before visual artists sought to join the ranks. In this elaborate allegory, a personification of painting appears to a seated artist (Zuccaro) and points to Olympus, where the Graces and the weeping Muses beg Jupiter to allow the Muse of painting to join her nine sisters. Minerva, like Apollo a protector of the arts, shows Jupiter an allegorical representation of Faith under attack by Heresy to demonstrate the capacity of the visual arts to convey a moral message, while Envy writhes beneath Painting's feet.