Engraving with applied gilding
sheet 6 9/16 x 3 1/2 in. (16.6 x 8.9 cm)
The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1959 (59.570.32)
The Muse Euterpe, ca. 1465–67
Engraving; sheet 7 1/4 x 4 in. (18.4 x 10.2 cm)
Gift of Junius S. Morgan, 1919 (19.52.18)
The fifty engravings of the so-called Tarocchi di Mantegna were not designed by the Mantuan artist Andrea Mantegna and do not form a true tarot deck, for they lack suits, number cards, and face cards. Possibly intended as a didactic game or booklet, the series of images illustrates the hierarchy of the universe, from the lowly beggar to the celestial spheres.
After the ten prints representing the states of man and those of the nine Muses with their leader, Apollomediators between humanity and knowledgecome the ten that depict personifications of the arts and sciences. The seven traditional liberal arts have been augmented by poetry, philosophy, and theology. Poetry is shown seated in front of Parnassus, playing the flutesymbol of eloquenceas she irrigates the earth with the inspirational waters of the Castalian spring.