Panel of Ornament with Two Sirens

Accession Number

Panel of Ornament with Two Sirens

Lucas Van Leyden

Object Creation Date

Medium & Support
engraving on paper

4 11/16 in x 3 1/16 in (11.9 cm x 7.8 cm)

Credit Line
Museum Purchase

Label copy
Gallery Rotation Spring/Summer 2012
Lucas van Leyden
Netherlands, 1494–1533
Panel of Ornament with Two Sirens
Museum purchase, 1960/2.134
The fanciful images known as grotesques were inspired by the discovery of the Domus Aurea or Golden Palace of the Roman emperor Nero and by Raphael’s interiors based on antique painting, but they were also commonly found in decorative arts such as metalwork and ceramics. This engraving of a panel with two sirens (mythological female creatures who lured sailors to their death with their song) regarding themselves in mirrors (below) surmounted by two hybrid-female figures may have been a design for work in another medium. Grotesques are usually organized, as here, along a central vertical axis.

Subject matter
This fanciful ornamental design was created by Lucas van Leyden, who prominently included his initial on the stand in the center of the print. The design combines mythological and grotesque figures in inventive ways that would have testified to the artist's skill. Such designs were used by other artists and craftsmen for the decoration of a wide range of objects, ranging from expensive metalwork to title-pages of books.

Physical Description
This print depicts an ornamental design. The central axis of the design is composed of a fanciful stand with a nude winged boy holding a trident, seen from the back, seated on the top. A pair of sirens holding small banners flank the base, and a pair of hybrid sphinx-like creatures perch near the top. The letter "L" appears in the center of the stand and the date "1528" is inscribed in the base.

Primary Object Classification

Primary Object Type
intaglio print

Collection Area

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copper engraving (printing process)
engravings (prints)
intaglio printing

& Author Notes

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