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Cumanan Sibyl

DPG537-45, one of nine surviving pictures from a set of twelve Sibyls owned by Edward Alleyn and acquired by him from 'Mr Gibkyn' in 1620 in exchange for 'my 12 owld Sybyles' and œ2 (according to an entry in his diary of 3 November). The fact that some of the pictures are on canvas and others on panel, and the apparent duplication of the Cumaen Sibyl, suggest that the set was not painted as such, but assembled from Gibkyn's stock. The twelve legendary sibyls, pagen virgins distinguished by their geographical names, prophesised specific episodes in the life of Christ. The Cumanan sibyl from the Bosphoros, foretold how Christ would live in poverty on earth (or how the Virgin would feed the infant Chrsit) and was sometimes shown with a crown or cornucopia.

Not currently on display

British School
57.2 x 40.9 cm
Oil on oak panel
Inscribed top: 'SIBILLA CVMANA'
Alleyn Bequest, 1626
Accession number