Jacques de Gheyn II. - engraver, Jacques de Gheyn II. - designer - The Masquerade, sheet 2
Each sheet from this arresting cycle of ten copper engravings represents three figures wearing masks and comical costumes. These are likely carnival or theatre figures; some of them refer directly to commedia dell’arte. De Gheyn had a close relationship to theatre and even acted in one play. Masks erasing people’s personal and social identities were also worn during the carnival, an event that turned a familiar city into a great illusion. The title page featuring a poem by Hugo Grotius inscribed in a tomb-shaped aedicula gives the whole series the moralizing undertone of a memento mori. A man and a woman stand praying on each side of the tomb, while a skeleton removes masks from their faces. The cycle can therefore be interpreted as an allegory of the worldly theatre: we act throughout our lives but no mask holds up against death and we meet Eternity stark naked.
measurements: height 222 mm
width 165 mm
material: paper
technique: engraving
inventory number: R 48875
gallery collection: Collection of Prints and Drawings