Raffaello Morghen, engraver
This print presents an allegory of the passage of time and the fleeting nature of human existence. Four figures—perhaps the four seasons or the four conditions of human life (wealth, poverty, pleasure, and toil)—dance in a circle to a lyre played by Time, seated in the lower right. The putti blowing bubbles and playing with an hourglass emphasize the vanity and ephemerality of life. In the heavens, the sun god Apollo holds the zodiac, advancing in his chariot, followed by the Hours.
This print is based on a painting made by Nicolas Poussin around 1635. Inspired by ancient art, Poussin’s design appealed to the popularity of Neoclassical imagery in the late 1700s. Published in Rome but dedicated to the duke of Florence, Morghen’s engraving showcases his command of the medium, and his ability to combine excellent draftsmanship with rich modulations of tone.