barber institute of fine arts
university of birmingham


Giorgio Ghisi (1520/4-1582)

An allegory of life (‘The dream of Raphael’)

Paris, 1561

Engraving

380 x 540 mm

 

Believed to have been inspired by Virgil’s Aeneid (19 B.C.), this work remains elusive in meaning. Ghisi’s frenetic attention to detail creates an intense, dream-like atmosphere of confusion. The splintered boat stranded amid the swirling water, jagged rocks and snarling beasts symbolise the man’s struggle to navigate through danger to the sunlit village in the distance. At its most basic level, this print represents the journey through the perils of life, and the river of time that transports us to a heavenly sylvan existence.

Purchased 1954 (No.55.8)

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