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Philosophy Presenting the Seven Liberal Arts to Boethius

about 1460 - 1470

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum
Los Angeles, United States

On the far left, Boethius speaks to Philosophy, who was his "sovereign comfort," as the inscription between them reads. Philosophy presents him with personifications of the seven liberal arts, the basic studies taught in medieval universities, emphasizing that they assist the study of philosophy. From left to right, an inscription and an attribute identify each of the liberal arts: Grammar, Rhetoric, Logic, Music, Geometry, Arithmetic, and Astronomy. Grammar, for example, holds an open book; Music holds a sheet of music. All seven are represented as young women dressed at the height of fashion, headed by Philosophy who herself wears an elaborate headdress known as an hennin.

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