Skip to main content

Laurent de La Hyre, Allegory of Grammar

Key facts
Full title Allegory of Grammar
Artist Laurent de La Hyre
Artist dates 1606 - 1656
Date made 1650
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 101.9 × 112.2 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated and inscribed
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Francis Falconer Madan, 1961
Inventory number NG6329
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Allegory of Grammar
Laurent de La Hyre

This painting is one of a series depicting the Seven Liberal Arts, which represent disciplines associated with learning and language – grammar, logic, rhetoric, arithmetic, music, geometry and astronomy – as half-length figures of women. Grammar is shown as a woman watering plants, conveying the idea that young minds need encouragement to develop and grow. The Latin inscription on the scroll can be translated as ‘A meaningful and literate word spoken in the correct manner’.

La Hyre’s figure imitates classical sculpture: her drapery appears solid and is arranged in crisp, overlapping folds. Further references to the classical age can be seen in the column and ornate urn.

La Hyre was probably inspired by Cesare Ripa’s Iconologia, an illustrated dictionary in which ideas were represented through images of people. The French edition was published in 1644, about five years before the artist began his series.

Download image
Download low-resolution image

Download a low-resolution copy of this image for personal use.

License this image

License and download a high-resolution image for reproductions up to A3 size from the National Gallery Picture Library.

License image
Download low-resolution image

This image is licensed for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons agreement.

Examples of non-commercial use are:

  • Research, private study, or for internal circulation within an educational organisation (such as a school, college or university)
  • Non-profit publications, personal websites, blogs, and social media

The image file is 800 pixels on the longest side.

As a charity, we depend upon the generosity of individuals to ensure the collection continues to engage and inspire. Help keep us free by making a donation today.

Download low-resolution image

You must agree to the Creative Commons terms and conditions to download this image.

Creative Commons Logo