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Open Access

Leda and the Swan

Artist: Hans Sebald Beham (1500 - 1550) Primary
Date: 1548
16th century
Object Type: Print
Creation Place: Europe, Germany
Medium and Support: Engraving on paper
Credit Line: Gift of William and Nancy Bartley, 2023.
Accession Number: 2023.07.01
This work is not currently on view

In the right foreground, a nude Leda embraces the god Zeus (Jove), who has taken the form of a swan in order to seduce her. In the bottom left, the inscription (LEDA A IOVE IN CYGNUM / VERSO COMPRESSA) identifies the scene. In the first state of this print, the last word of the inscription read (incorrectly) COMPRESSV; although the plate was re-engraved to correct the error in the print’s second state, a faint echo of the earlier V remains. A landscape background, including a distant castle, frames the couple. At the upper left, the engraver included his monogram, as well as the date 1548.


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Pictorial works produced by transferring images by means of a matrix such as a plate, block, or screen, using any of various printing processes. When emphasizing the individual printed image, use "impressions." Avoid the controversial expression "original prints," except in reference to discussions of the expression's use. If prints are neither "reproductive prints" nor "popular prints," use the simple term "prints." With regard to photographs, prefer "photographic prints"; for types of reproductions of technical drawings and documents, see terms found under "reprographic copies."
public domain
Land owned and controlled by the state or federal government. Also, the status of publications, products, and processes that are not protected under patent or copyright.
Prints on paper incorporating impressions of a reverse design created on a printing plate, usually copper, into which the design has been incised (engraved) using burins or gravers. Historically, "engravings" has sometimes been incorrectly used to refer to all prints, regardless of the specific technique. For prints made from designs engraved on a flat wooden block, use "wood cuts"; for prints made from a plate that is etched rather than engraved, use "etchings."

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