This work depicts a lively outdoor scene in pen and ink with grey wash and pink and blue watercolor. The setting is replete with lush foliage and populated by several figures and animals. A nude female figure stands holding onto a slender fruit tree looking over a body of water in which a winged boy wades holding his hands to his head. Another nude female figure is shown seated on the right holding a dog tied to a leash. Two playful birds and another winged boy are shown in the bottom foreground.
A woman wearing long robes sits holding a pen in her right hand and props up a blank tablet in her lap. A putto helps support the table from behind and points toward the seated figure. A pot of ink with another pen appears next to his foot.
The print depicts an ancient prophetess, known as a sibyl, holding a pen and awaiting a prophecy that she will inscribe on the blank tablet held in her lap. The chiaroscuro woodcut was probably made by Coriolano after a drawing by the famous painter Guido Reni (1575-1642). Reni, in turn, apparently found inspiration for this work in a chiaroscuro woodcut of a similar subject made by the artist Ugo da Carpi after Raphael over a century earlier.
A woman dressed in a rose-colored robe with a blue mantle and flowing white veil stands on a silver crescent moon among a bank of dark clouds. A halo of stars encircles her head. She clasps both hands before her. The heads of two putti peak out from beneath her mantle next to her left hip. Her right foot treads upon a long serpent that curves back upon itself with an open mouth.
This exquisite painting shows the Assumption of the Virgin Mary in which she is raised body and soul to heaven upon the moment of her death. For devout Catholics of the period the event was an important promise of the resurrection of all humanity that would come at the end of time. The stars around her head and moon under her feet presage this resurrection, as these details are derived from the figure of the “woman clothed with the sun” described in the apocalyptic Book of Revelation from the Bible. The raising of the Virgin to heaven before the apocalypse also signals her privileged position in Catholic belief as the Queen of Heaven who would intercede with Christ for mercy on behalf of sinners. This painting evokes such keenly felt faith in the Virgin through its small size, which indicates that it was destined as an object for guiding personal prayers.