Medea and the Hand Mirror

Drawing of hand mirror with design with Medea's story
Print, Hand Mirror with Scenes from the Story of Medea, 1561; Etienne Delaune (French, 1519 – 1583); Engraving on white laid paper; 22.2 × 11 cm (8 3/4 × 4 5/16 in.); Cooper Hewitt Museum purchase through gift of Mrs. John Innes Kane; 1946-13-1.

Sixteenth-century Europe saw, with the apogee of humanism, the reactivation of intellectual and creative energies towards classical antiquity, through which the decorative arts flourished. Designs were highly imaginative, with increasingly complicated, fantastical motifs, in which material opulence coexisted with humanist knowledge in the form of historical and mythological themes. A case in point is this design for a hand mirror by Etienne Delaune,  one of the finest ornament engravers of all time. Despite this engraving’s small size, the rich ornamental details of the design invite us to take a closer look at this wonderful object.


Beltran-Rubio, Laura. “Medea and the Hand Mirror.” Cooper Hewitt: Object of the Day, 7 June 2017.

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