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Plaquette - Euterpe


  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Nuremberg (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1540 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Flötner, Peter, born 1485 - died 1546 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This plaquette forms part of a series of the Nine Muses produced by Peter Flötner. Flötner was a prolific artist and designer who worked across many media and types of art. He was important in disseminating Italian renaissance classical styles and motifs to German artists. Flötner's plaquettes and woodcuts particularly demonstrate his confident interpretation of renaissance concepts and classical forms, and were also in an easily transportable form to reach other artists. His designs were widely admired both during his lifetime and after his death, and were copied by artists onto a wide range of other objects.
The here represented Euterpe was the Muse of music and lyric poetry.

Physical description

Euterpe is standing, facing to left and playing a flute.

Place of Origin

Nuremberg (made)


ca. 1540 (made)


Flötner, Peter, born 1485 - died 1546 (maker)

Materials and Techniques



Height: 7.7 cm, Width: 5.5 cm

Object history note

This plaquette forms part of a series of the Nine Muses. It is cast in lead which Flötner tended to use for his plaquettes. He also used copper alloy, where Italian sculptors mostly used bronze. He would prepare a drawing, which would be carved in wood or Solnhofen limestone, and then cast.

Bought from H. Backer, 60, Park Street, (together with A.20 to A.24-1954) for £17.

Historical significance: Flötner was important in disseminating Italian renaissance classicism to German artists. The lessons that he learnt from Italian art are particularly clear in his plaquette designs, which show confident handling of Renaissance concepts and classical forms. His interpretation of classical motifs in architecture was particularly widely disseminated and he was the first to use grotesque motifs in German Renaissance ornament. The publication by Rudolff Wijffenbach in 1546 of Das Kunstbuch des Peter Flötner, which brought together forty of Flötner's surviving woodcuts was particularly influential on other German artists.

Flötner's designs were widely admired both during his lifetime and after his death. His plaquettes were pursued by collectors, and artists copied his decorative motifs in both contemporary and later works. His designs were copied on goldwork, clocks, ivories, pewter, bells, mortars and stove tiles, and even converted into large wood façades for houses in lower Saxony.

Historical context note

Plaquettes began to be made in southern Germany around 1510-1520, in Augsburg and Nuremberg. They were produced by bronze foundries, goldsmiths and cabinetmakers. Models would be carved in stone, slate, wood or wax, and then cast in bronze or lead. Like in Italy, plaquettes served a number of functions, being used as pendants, badges or furniture decoration, as well as admired as small works of art. Plaquettes often, but not always, portrayed religious or mythological scenes. Peter Flötner produced several series of plaquettes, including 'The Virtues,' and 'Eminent Women of Classical Antiquity' as well as 'The Seven Gods of the Planets' series. These plaquettes show Flötner's use of landscapes to set-off his expressive figures in many of his plaquettes. Such compositions may have been influenced by Venetian paintings.
Flötner worked in Germany as a sculptor, medallist, cabinetmaker, woodcutter and designer. He is known for the wide range of his work, including fountains, organs, and furniture as well as decorative objects. He was probably born in the Thurgau region of Switzerland, and may have trained in the Augsburg workshop of the Renaissance sculptor Hans Daucher between 1515 and 1518. He was certainly influenced by Daucher's Italianate style and that of Hans Burgkmair I. Flötner settled in Nuremberg in 1522, and was registered as a 'master sculptor' when he became a citizen in 1523. He is conjectured to have visited Italy in 1520-21, and again by 1530. These visits would have played a part in encouraging his adoption of Italian renaissance styles. In Nuremberg, Flötner introduced new classical forms in architecture, marking a change from the gothic style influenced by Albrecht Dürer. His mature classical style is seen first in the Apollo Fountain which he designed for Nuremberg in 1532. It is based on an engraving of Apollo and Diana by Jacopo de' Barbari, and demonstrates Flötner's confident interpretation of Italian composition and proportions. Flötner later worked on commissions for the interior decorations and furniture of various aristocratic houses.

Descriptive line

Plaquette, lead, Euterpe, by Peter Flötner, South Germany, ca. 1540

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

Weber, I. Deutsche, Niederländische und Französische Renaissance Plaketten. Munich, 1975, p. 77, no. M58, 2



Subjects depicted



Sculpture; Plaques & Plaquettes


Sculpture Collection

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