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The Flaying of Marsyas

The Flaying of Marsyas

c. 1570-1605

Jan van der Straet, called Johannes Stradanus

(Netherlandish, active Antwerp and Florence, 1523-1605)

Pen and brown ink and brown and red washes, heightened with white, on paper prepared with red wash

Sheet: 21.1 x 31.5 cm (8 5/16 x 12 3/8 in.)

Severance and Greta Millikin Purchase Fund 2018.26


This late-16th century chiaroscuro drawing depicts the outcome of a musical contest between the god Apollo and the satyr Marsyas: as the loser, Marsyas’s punishment was to be flayed (skinned) alive. Johannes Stradanus created a lively gathering of the gods, each displaying a different emotional reaction to the scene, from sadness or indifference, to fascination.

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