Wednesday, June 28, 2017

17th-century Depictions of Ancient Mythical Beings

Isaac Oliver
Nymphs and Satyrs
ca 1605-10
wash drawing
Royal Collection, Windsor
Camillo Procaccini
Fantastic Scene with Beasts, Monsters, and Satyr
before 1629
Royal Collection,  Windsor

Hendrick ter Brugghen
Sleeping Mars
oil on panel
Centraal Museum, Utrecht

"Even the Sun, who with his central light guides all the stars, has felt the power of love.  The Sun's loves we will relate.  This god was first, 'tis said, to see the shame of Mars and Venus; this god sees all things first.  Shocked at the sight, he revealed her sin to the goddess' husband, Vulcan, Juno's son, and where it was committed. Then Vulcan's mind reeled and the work upon which he was engaged fell from his hands. Straightway he fashioned a net of fine links of bronze, so thin that they would escape detection of the eye.  Not the finest threads of wool would surpass that work; no, not the web which the spider lets down from the ceiling beam.  He made the web in such a way that it would yield to the slightest touch, the least movement. and then he spread it deftly over the couch.  Now when the goddess and her paramour had come thither, by the husband's art and by the net so cunningly prepared they were both caught and held fast in each other's arms.  Straightway Vulcan, the Lemnian, opened wide the ivory doors and let in the other gods.  There lay the two in chains, disgracefully, and some one of the merry gods prayed that he might be so disgraced.  The gods laughed, and for a long time this story was the talk of heaven."

 from Book 4 of the Metamorphoses of Ovid, in the Loeb Classical Library edition, translated by Frank Justus Miller, revised by G.P. Goold (Harvard University Press, 1977)

Nicolas Poussin
Mars and Venus
ca. 1630
oil on canvas
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Peter Paul Rubens
Venus and Mars
ca. 1632-35
oil on canvas
Musei di Strada Nuova, Genoa

Peter Paul Rubens
Achilles educated by Centaur Chiron
ca. 1630-35
oil on panel (modello, for finished painting or fresco)
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen Rotterdam

Jacob Jordaens
Satyr playing the Pipe
ca. 1639
oil on canvas (fragment of larger piece)
Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao

Claude Lorrain
Landscape with Nymph and Satyr Dancing
oil on canvas
Toledo Museum of Art (Ohio)

François Duquesnoy
Marsyas playing Pipes, with two Fauns
before 1643
British Museum

Guido Reni
Study for head of Marsyas
ca. 1620-25
Royal Collection, Windsor

Salvatore Castiglione
Bacchanal with Satyrs and Lion
ca. 1650-55
Royal Collection, Windsor

Peter Lely
Nymphs by a Fountain
ca. 1650-55
oil on canvas
Dulwich Picture Gallery, London

Caesar van Everdingen
Bacchus on Throne with Nymphs offering wine and fruit
ca. 1658-70
oil on canvas
Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf

"The priest had bidden the people to celebrate a Bacchic festival; all serving-women to be excused from toil; with their mistresses they must cover their breasts with the skins of beasts, they must loosen the ribands of their hair, and with garlands upon their heads they must hold in their hands the vine-wreathed thyrsus. And he had prophesied that the wrath of the god would be merciless if he were disregarded.  The matrons and young wives all obey, put by weaving and workbaskets, leave their tasks unfinished; they burn incense, calling on Bacchus, naming him also Bromius, Lyaeus, son of the thunderbolt, twice born, child of two mothers; they hail him as Nyseus also, Thyoneus of the unshorn locks, Lenaeus, planter of the joy-giving vine, Nyctelius, father of Eleleus, Iacchus, and Euhan, and all the many names besides by which thou art known, O Liber, throughout the towns of Greece."

"For thine is unending youth, eternal boyhood; thou art the most lovely in the lofty sky; thy face is virgin-seeming, if without horns thou stand before us. The Orient owns thy sway, even to the bounds where remotest Ganges leaves swart India. Pentheus you didst destroy, thou awful god, and Lycurgus, armed with the two-edged battle-axe (impious were they both), and didst hurl the Tuscan sailors into the sea.  Lynxes, with bright reins harnessed, draw thy car: baccant women and satyrs follow thee, and that old man, who, drunk with wine, supports his staggering limbs on  his staff and clings weakly to his misshapen ass. Where'er thou goest, glad shouts of youth and cries of women echo round, with drum of tambourine, the cymbals' clash, and the shrill piping of the flute." 

 from Book 4 of the Metamorphoses of Ovid, in the Loeb Classical Library edition, translated by Frank Justus Miller, revised by G.P. Goold (Harvard University Press, 1977)

Claude Audran the Younger
Mars in Chariot drawn by Wolves
oil on canvas
Château de Versailles