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The Dramatic Image: Baroque Prints of the 17th Century

Bernard Picart
French, 1673–1733

Orpheus Leading Eurydice Out of Hell, Looks Back Upon Her, and Loses Her Forever from The Temple of the Muses

Etching, 1731
Museum Purchase, 1984.42

Orpheus was the greatest musician and poet of Greek mythology. So great were his talents that he charmed the deities of Hell (Hades and Persephone) into releasing his deceased wife, Eurydice, to return to Earth. Orpheus was instructed to not look back at Eurydice behind him as he led her out of the gates of the Underworld, or she would be dragged back, never to return. In his eagerness to behold his wife again, however, Orpheus is unable to restrain himself and turns around. Just as she is about to step out of the realm of the dead, Eurydice is pulled back to reside there forever.