Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Diana, her brother Apollo and their colleague Mercury

Giulio Romano and workshop
Birth of Diana and Apollo
ca. 1530-40
oil on canvas
Royal Collection, Great Britain
acquired by Charles I from the Gonzaga collection in Mantua

Abraham Bloemaert
Mercury, Argus, and Io
ca. 1592
oil on canvas
Centraal Museum, Utrecht

Jean Lemaire
Mercury, Argus and Io
ca. 1625-40
oil on canvas
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

"When Mercury was going on to tell this story, he saw that all those eyes had yielded and were closed in sleep. Straightway he checks his words, and deepens Argus' slumber by passing his magic wand over those sleep-faint eyes.  And forthwith he smites with his hooked sword the nodding head just where it joins the neck and sends it bleeding down the rocks, defiling the rugged cliff with blood.  Argus, thou liest low: the light which thou hadst within thy many fires is all put out; and one darkness fills thy hundred eyes.'"

"Saturnia took these eyes and set them on the feathers of her bird, filling his tail with star-like jewels.  Straightway she flamed with anger, nor did she delay the fulfillment of her wrath.  She set a terror-bearing fury to work before the eyes and heart of her Grecian rival, planted deep within her breast a goading fear, and hounded her in flight through all the world.  Thou, O Nile, alone didst close her boundless toil.  When she reached the stream, she flung herself down on her knees upon the river bank; with head thrown back she raised her face, which alone she could raise, to the high stars, and with groans and tears and agonized mooings she seemed to voice her griefs to Jove and to beg him to end her woes.  Thereupon Jove threw his arms about his spouse's neck and begged her at last to end her vengeance, saying, "Lay aside all fear for the future; she shall never be a source of grief to you again," and he called upon the Stygian  pools to witness his oath."

"The goddess's wrath is soothed; Io gains back her former looks, and becomes what she was before. The rough hair falls away from her body, her horns disappear, her great round eyes grow smaller, her gaping mouth is narrowed, her shoulders and her hands come back, and the hoofs are gone, being changed each into five nails.  No trace of the heifer is left in her save only the fair whiteness of her body.  And now the nymph, able at last to stand upon two feet, stands erect; yet fears to speak, lest she moo in the heifer's way, and with fear and trembling she resumes her long-abandoned speech."

 from Book 1 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)

Alessandro Turchi
Diana and Actaeon
ca. 1600
oil on canvas
Musée d’Art Classique de Mougins

Apollo and Daphne
ca. 1616-18
Royal Collection

Guido Reni
Apollo in the Sun Chariot
before 1642
Albertina, Vienna

Cosmas Damian Asam
Apollo in the Sun Chariot
wash drawing
Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf

"Now when Clymene's son had climbed the steep path which leads thither, and had come beneath the roof of his sire whose fatherhood had been questioned, straightway he turned him to his father's face, but halted some little space away; for he could not bear the radiance at a nearer view.  Clad in a purple robe, Phoebus Apollo sat on his throne gleaming with brilliant emeralds.  To right and left stood Day and Month, and Year and Century, and the Hours set at equal distances.  Young spring was there, wreathed with a floral crown; Summer, all unclad with garland of ripe grain; Autumn was there, stained with the trodden grape, and icy Winter with white and bristly locks. Seated in the midst of these, the Sun, with the eyes which behold all things, looked on the youth filled with terror at the strange new sights, and said: "Why hast thou come?  What seekest thou in this high dwelling, Phaëthon,  a son no father need deny?"  The lad replied: "O common light of this vast universe, Phoebus, my father, if thou grantest me the right to use that name, if Clymene is not hiding her shame beneath an unreal pretence, grant me a proof, my father, by which all may know me for thy true son, and take away the uncertainty from my mind." 

 from Book 2 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)

Stefano Pozzi
Apollo and Daphne
drawing on blue paper
Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf

François Boucher
Mercury entrusting the Infant Bacchus to Nymphs
oil sketch on canvas
Cincinnati Art Museum

Angelica Kauffmann
Diana and her Nymphs bathing
ca. 1778-82
oil on canvas
Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide

Master of the Giants
 Apollo and Daphne
ca. 1779
Yale Center for British Art

Anonymous French printmaker
Diana and Callisto
Hermitage, Saint Petersburg

"But see, Diana, with her train of nymphs, approaches along the slopes of Maenalus, proud of her trophies of the chase. She sees our maiden [Callisto] and calls to her.  At first she flees in fear, lest this should be Jove in disguise again.  But when she sees the other nymphs coming too, she is reassured and joins the band.  Alas, how hard it is not to betray a guilty conscience in the face!  She walks with downcast eyes, not, as was her wont, close to her goddess, and leading all the rest.  Her silence and her blushes give clear tokens of her plight; and, were not Diana herself a maid, she could know her guilty by a thousand signs; it is said that the nymphs knew it.  Nine times since then the crescent moon had grown full orbed, when the goddess, quitting the chase and overcome by the sun's hot rays, came to a cool grove through which a gently murmuring stream flowed over smooth white sands.  The place delighted her and she dipped her feet into the water.  Delighted too with this, she said to her companions: "Come, no one is near to see; let us disrobe and bathe us in the brook."  The Arcadian blushed, and, while all the rest obeyed, she only sought excuses for delay.  But her companions forced her to comply, and there her shame was openly confessed.  As she stood terror-stricken, vainly striving to hide her state, Diana cried: "Begone! and pollute not our sacred pool," and so expelled her from the company. 

The great Thunderer's wife had known all this long since; but she had put off her vengeance until a fitting time.  And now that time was come; for to add a sting to Juno's hate, a boy, Arcas, had been born of her rival.  Whereto when she turned her angry mind and her angry eyes, "See there!" she cried, "nothing was left, adulteress, than to breed a son, and publish my wrong by his birth, a living witness to my lord's shame. But thou shalt suffer for it.  Yea, for I will take away thy beauty wherewith thou dost delight thyself, forward girl, and him who is my husband." So saying, she caught her by the hair full in front and flung her face-foremost to the ground.  And when the girl stretched out her arms in prayer for mercy, her arms began to grow rough with black shaggy hair; her hands changed into feet tipped with sharp claws; and her lips, which but now Jove had praised, were changed to broad, ugly jaws; and, that she might not move him with entreating prayers, her power of speech was taken from her, and only a harsh, terrifying growl came hoarsely from her throat.  Still her human feelings remained, though she was now a bear."    

 from Book 2 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)

Arnold Böcklin
Sleeping Diana watched by two Fauns
ca. 1877-85
oil on canvas
Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf

Pompeo Batoni
Mercury crowning Philosophy Mother of the Arts
oil on canvas
Hermitage, Saint Petersburg