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
drawing
Royal Collection,  Windsor

Hendrick ter Brugghen
Sleeping Mars
1629
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
1641
oil on canvas
Toledo Museum of Art (Ohio)

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

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



Salvatore Castiglione
Bacchanal with Satyrs and Lion
ca. 1650-55
drawing
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
1673
oil on canvas
Château de Versailles

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

Domenichino
Apollo and Daphne
ca. 1616-18
drawing
Royal Collection

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

Cosmas Damian Asam
Apollo in the Sun Chariot
1730
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
1730
drawing on blue paper
Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf

François Boucher
Mercury entrusting the Infant Bacchus to Nymphs
1734
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
drawing
Yale Center for British Art

Anonymous French printmaker
Diana and Callisto
1780s
stipple-engraving
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
1747
oil on canvas
Hermitage, Saint Petersburg

Samuel Palmer in New Haven

Samuel Palmer
At Hailsham, Sussex - Storm Approaching
1821
watercolor
Yale Center for British Art
(painted at age 16)

Samuel Palmer
Cow-lodge with Mossy Roof
ca. 1829
watercolor, gouache
Yale Center for British Art

Samuel Palmer
Barn with Mossy Roof, Shoreham
ca. 1830
watercolor, gouache
Yale Center for British Art

Samuel Palmer
The Bright Cloud
ca. 1831-32
watercolor
Yale Center for British Art

One morning he pulls off his diamond ring, and writes upon the glass of the sash in my chamber this line 

'You I love, and you alone.'

I read it, and asked him to lend me his ring, with which I wrote under it thus 

'And so in love says every one.'

He takes his ring again, and writes another line, thus 

'Virtue alone is an estate.'

I borrowed it again, and I wrote under it 

'But money's virtue; gold is fate.'

He coloured as red as fire to see me turn so quick upon him, and in a kind of rage told me he could conquer me, and writes again thus 

'I scorn your gold, and yet I love.'

I ventured all upon the last cast of poetry, as you'll see, for I wrote boldly under his last 

'I'm poor: let's see how kind you'll prove.'

This was a sad truth to me; whether he believed me or no, I could not tell; I supposed then that he did not.  However, he flew to me, took me in his arms, and kissing me very eagerly, he called for pen and ink, and then told me he could not wait the tedious writing on glass, but, pulling out a piece of paper, he began and 
wrote again 

'Be mine, with all your poverty.'

I took the pen, and followed him immediately, thus 
                         
'Yet secretly you hope I lie.'

He told me that was unkind, because it was not just, and that I put him upon contradicting me, which did not consist with good manners, any more than with his affection; and therefore, since I had insensibly drawn him into this poetical scribble, he begged I would not oblige him to break it off; so he writes again 

'Let love alone be our debate.'

I wrote again 

'She loves enough, that does not hate.'

This he took for a favor and so laid down the cudgels, that is to say, the pen; I say, he took it for a favor, and a mighty one it was, if he had known all.  However, he took it as I meant it, that is, to let him think I was inclined to go on with him, as indeed I had all the reason in the world to do, for he was the best-humored, merry sort of a fellow that I ever met with, and I often reflected on myself how doubly criminal it was to deceive such a man."

 Daniel Defoe, from Moll Flanders (1722)

Samuel Palmer
Harvest Moon
ca. 1833
oil on paper, mounted on panel
Yale Center for British Art

Samuel Palmer
The Weald of Kent
1833-34
watercolor
Yale Center for British Art

Samuel Palmer
The Timber-Wain
1833-34
watercolor, gouache
Yale Center for British Art

Samuel Palmer
Rocky Landscape in Wales
ca. 1835-36
watercolor, gouache
Yale Center for British Art

Samuel Palmer
View from Rook's Hill, Kent
1843
watercolor, gouache
Yale Center for British Art

Samuel Palmer
Wilmot's Hill, Kent
1851
watercolor, gouache
Yale Center for British Art

Samuel Palmer
Sunset
ca. 1861
watercolor
Yale Center for British Art

Samuel Palmer
Opening the Fold - Early Morning
ca. 1880
wash drawing
Yale Center for British Art

Samuel Palmer
Rock-slip near Boscastle
before 1881
gouache, colored chalks
Yale Center for British Art

Samuel Palmer
Rustic Contentment
before 1881
watercolor, gouache
Yale Center for British Art

Monday, June 26, 2017

Two Tiepolos and Jean-Antoine Watteau

Giambattista Tiepolo
Allegory of Virtue and Nobility
ca. 1740-50
oil on canvas
Museo Poldi Pezzoli, Milan

Giambattista Tiepolo
Rinaldo enchanted by Armida
ca. 1742-45
oil on canvas
Art Institute of Chicago

"Armida's craft, her sleight and hidden guile
You partly wot, her acts and arts untrue,
How to your camp she came, and by what wile
The greatest lords and princes thence she drew;
You know she turned them first to monsters vile,
And kept them closed up in secret mew,
Lastly, to Gaza-ward in bonds them sent,
Whom young Rinaldo rescued as they went.

What chanced since I will at large declare,
To you unknown, a story strange and true.
When first her prey, got with such pain and care,
Escaped and gone the witch perceived and knew,
Her hands she wrung for grief, her clothes she tare,
And full of woe these heavy words outthrew:
'Alas! my knights are slain, my prisoners free,
Yet of that conquest never boast shall he,

He in their place shall serve me, and sustain
Their plagues, their torments suffer, sorrows bear,
And they his absence shall lament in vain.
And wail his loss and theirs with many a tear.'
Thus talking to herself she did ordain
A false and wicked guile, as you shall hear,
Thither she hasted where the valiant knight
Had overcome and slain her men in fight."

 from Book 14 of Gerusalemme Liberata by Torquato Tasso, translated into English by Edward Fairfax in 1600 and published as Godfrey of Bulloigne, or, The Recovery of Jerusalem

Giambattista Tiepolo
Drapery study for St Pascal Baylon
ca. 1767-69
drawing
Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf

Giandomenico Tiepolo
Triumph of Pulcinella (Venice)
ca. 1760-70
oil on canvas
Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen

Giandomenico Tiepolo
The Storyteller (Venice)
ca. 1773-77
oil on canvas
Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, Texas

"Familiar though his name may be to us, the storyteller in his living immediacy is by no means a present force.  He has already become something remote from us and something that is getting even more distant.  . . .  Experience which is passed on from mouth to mouth is the source from which all storytellers have drawn.  And among those who have written down the tales, it is the great ones whose written version differs least from the speech of the many nameless storytellers.  Incidentally, among the last named there are two groups which, to be sure, overlap in many ways.  And the figure of the storyteller gets its full corporeality only for the one who can picture them both.  "When someone goes on a trip, he has something to tell about," goes the German saying, and people imagine the storyteller as someone who has come from afar.  But they enjoy no less listening to the man who has stayed at home, making an honest living, and who knows the local tales and traditions.  If one wants to picture these two groups through their archaic representatives, one is embodied in the resident tiller of the soil, and the other in the trading seaman.  Indeed, each sphere of life has, as it were, produced its own tribe of storytellers.  Each of these tribes preserves some of its characteristics centuries later.  . . . The actual extension of the realm of storytelling in its full historical breadth is inconceivable without the most intimate interpenetration of these two archaic types.  Such an interpenetration was achieved particularly in the Middle Ages in their trade structure.  The resident master craftsmen and the traveling journeyman worked together in the same rooms, and every master had been a traveling journeyman before he settled down in his home town or somewhere else.  If peasants and seamen were past masters of storytelling, the artisan class was its university.  In it was combined the lore of faraway places, such as a much-traveled man brings home, with the lore of the past, as it best reveals itself to natives of a place."

 Walter Benjamin, from his 1936 essay on Nikolai Leskov, The Storyteller. It was translated by Harry Zohn and published in English in 1969 in Illuminations: Essays and Reflections, edited by Hannah Arendt

Jean-Antoine Watteau
Study of Woman's Head
ca. 1720
drawing
Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

Jean-Antoine Watteau
Seated Young Woman
ca. 1715-17
drawing
Morgan Library, New York

Jean-Antoine Watteau
Diana Bathing
1715-16
drawing
Albertina, Vienna

O latest born and loveliest vision far
    Of all Olympus' faded hierarchy!
Fairer than Phoebe's sapphire-regioned star,
    Or Vesper, amorous glow-worm of the sky;
Fairer than these, though temple thou hast none,
           Nor altar heap'd with flowers;
Nor virgin-choir to make delicious moan
            Upon the midnight hours;
No voice, no lute, no pipe, no incense sweet
    From chain-swung censer teeming;
No shrine, no grove, no oracle, no heat
    Of pale-mouth'd prophet dreaming.
       
O brightest! though too late for antique vows,
    Too, too late for the fond believing lyre,
When holy were the haunted forest boughs,
    Holy the air, the water, and the fire;
Yet even in these days so far retir'ed
    From happy pieties, thy lucent fans
    Fluttering among the faint Olympians,
I see, and sing, by my own eyes inspired,
So let me be thy choir, and make a moan
           Upon the midnight hours;
Thy voice, thy lute, thy pipe, thy incense sweet
    From swinged censer teeming;
Thy shrine, thy grove, thy oracle, thy heat
    Of pale-mouth'd prophet dreaming.
             
 from Ode to Psyche by John Keats (1820)

Jean-Antoine Watteau
Lesson in Love
ca. 1716-17
oil on panel
Nationalmuseum, Stockholm

Jean-Antoine Watteau
Pleasures of Love
ca. 1718-19
oil on canvas
Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden

Jean-Antoine Watteau
Feast of Love
ca. 1718-19
oil on canvas
Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden

"It has taken many accidents, many surprising coincidences (and perhaps many efforts), for me to find the Image which, out of a thousand, suits my desire.  Herein a great enigma, to which I shall never possess the key: Why is it that I desire So-and-so?  Why is it that I desire So-and-so lastingly, longingly?  Is it the whole of So-and-so I desire (a silhouette, a shape, a mood)?  And, in that case, what is it in this loved body which has the vocation of a fetish for me?  What perhaps incredibly tenuous portion  what accident?  The way a nail is cut, a tooth broken slightly aslant, a lock of hair, a way of spreading the fingers while talking, while smoking?  About all these folds of the body, I want to say that they are adorable.  Adorable means: this is my desire, insofar as it is unique: "That's it! That's it exactly (which I love)!"  Yet the more I experience the specialty of my desire, the less I can give it a name; to the precision of the target corresponds a wavering of the name; what is characteristic of desire, proper to desire, can produce only an impropriety of utterance.  Of this failure of language, there remains only one trace: the word "adorable" (the right translation of "adorable" would be the Latin ipse: it is the self, himself, herself, in person)."

– Roland Barthes from A Lover's Discourse, translated by Richard Howard (New York: Hill and Wang, 1978)  

Jean-Antoine Watteau
Heureux age! Age d'or! (Happy age! Age of gold!)
ca. 1716-20
oil on panel
Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas

Jean-Antoine Watteau
L’Amante inquiète (The Uneasy Lover)
ca. 1717-20
 oil on panel
Musée Condé, Chantilly

Jean-Antoine Watteau
The Italian Comedians
ca. 1720
oil on canvas
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC