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The poet Virgil suspended in a basket

  • Object:


  • Date:

    1525 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Leyden, Lucas van (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Engraving in ink on paper

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level E, case I, shelf 14, box C

Like his contemporary, Albrecht Dürer, Lucas van Leyden was internationally recognised within his lifetime and beyond. Giorgio Vasari, writing in 1568, praised Leyden's fine engraving style and his use of perspective. Fine quality early impressions of his prints are rare. Copper printing plates are capable of producing only one or two hundred fine impressions before the plate starts to wear down, especially with a fine line engraving style as Leyden's. Such was Leyden's reputation and his prints so sought by collectors that his original printing plates were kept and impressions taken from them long after his death, resulting in a larger number of surviving poor and worn impressions than fine ones. Numerous copies were also made from his originals, which satisfied demand when originals were not available or affordable and for collectors of images interested more in subject matter.

Physical description

The scene is set inside a castle. In the background is the courtyard and round tower from which Virgil is seen dangling in a basket. Clusters of people stand and point in the courtyard. In the foreground, separated from the courtyard by a low wall on which is a winged dog statue, is an archway with decorative carving and columns. A group of people, men, women and young children, mostly expensively dressed, stand or sit in the area just in front of the archway and talk amongst themselves or point towards the tower.


1525 (made)


Leyden, Lucas van (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Engraving in ink on paper

Marks and inscriptions

L / 1525
Artist initial inscribed on plate on a rock, bottom left


Height: 24.1 cm cut to, Width: 18.7 cm cut to, Height: 53.1 cm mounted, Width: 38 cm mounted

Object history note

Salting Bequest, 4506

Descriptive line

Engraving, The poet Virgil suspended in a basket, Lucas Hugensz van Leyden (called Lucas Jacobsz); 1525.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Bartsch, Adam von. Le Peintre Graveur. Leipzig, J.A. Barth, 1854-1876.
The New Hollstein: Dutch & Flemish etchings, engravings and woodcuts, 1450-1700. Roosendaal. Koninklijke Van Poll in cooperation with the Rijksprentenkabinet, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, 1993-
Cornelis, Bart and Jan Piet Filedt Kok. The taste for Lucas van Leyden prints. In: Simiolus - Netherlands Quarterly for the History of Art. 26: 1/2 (1998).


Ink; Paper



Subjects depicted

Tunics; Statue; Courtyards; Castle; Archways; Shoes (footwear); Headdresses; Hats; Costume; Columns (architectural elements); Staffs (walking sticks); Purses (wallets); Trees; Carving; Basket


Prints; Images Online; Illustration


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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