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Sacrifice to Priapus, the smaller plate

A work made of engraving on ivory laid paper.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of engraving on ivory laid paper.




Jacopo de’ Barbari
Italian, 1460/70-before July 1516

About this artwork

The medical term priapism is derived from the name of the minor fertility god Priapus, whose permanently erect phallus is carefully washed in this sacrificial scene. Jacopo de’ Barbari also produced a larger engraving (1935.102 and 1956.999) in which the god’s phallus is obscured by smoke. The ceremonies depicted in these prints would have been intended to enhance the women’s fertility and their sons’ virility. The winged staff of Hermes doubles as the artist’s monogram in both prints; its placement on Priapus’s plinth may refer to the practice of erecting guideposts with Hermes’ portrait near roads to help lost travelers. Like the statue in this work, these pillars would have included sculpted, protruding genitalia, as in the Master of 1515’s engraving of Cleopatra (1951.374).


On View, Gallery 204


Prints and Drawings


Jacopo de' Barbari


Sacrifice to Priapus, the smaller plate


Italy (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



Engraving on ivory laid paper


9.7 × 10.8 cm (3 7/8 × 4 5/16 in.)

Credit Line

Bequest of Mrs. Potter Palmer, Jr.

Reference Number


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