Orpheus seated and playing his lyre, charming the animals

Artist: Peregrino da Cesena (Italian, active Bologna, ca. 1490–ca. 1520)

Date: ca. 1500–1520

Medium: Niello print (in the manner of nielli)

Dimensions: Plate: 2 1/16 x 1 3/16 in. (5.2 x 3 cm)

Classification: Prints

Credit Line: Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1928

Accession Number: 28.97.99


The earliest known Italian engravings are niello prints. The design was taken from a small, incised silver plaque the engaved lines of which were filled with a dark, enamel-like substance that when pressed in to the paper produced the image. The plaques decorated household and liturgical objects. Originally used by goldsmiths to check work in progress, the prints soon became valued in their own right. Peregrino engraved metal plates in the same style and scale as the niello plaques specifically to create printed images.