10 Paintings, Olympian deities, by the Old Masters, with footnotes, #9

Simeon Solomon, 1840–1905

Sappho and Erinna in a Garden at Mytilene, c. 1864

Watercolour on paper

330 x 381 mm

Tate Britain

The picture depicts Sappho embracing her fellow poet Erinna in a garden at Mytilene on the island of Lesbos. Sappho was born at Lesbos in about 612BC. After a period of exile in Sicily she returned to the island and was at the centre of a community of young women devoted to Aphrodite and the Muses. Sappho wrote nine books of poetry, of which only fragments survive. The principal subject of her work is the joy and frustration of love and the most complete surviving poem is an invocation to the goddess Aphrodite to help her in her relationship with a woman. More on Sappho and Erinna in a Garden at Mytilene

Simeon Solomon (9 October 1840 – 14 August 1905) was an English Pre-Raphaelite painter noted for his depictions of Jewish life and same-sex desire. Born and educated in London, Solomon started receiving lessons in painting from his older brother around 1850. He started attending Carey’s Art Academy in 1852. His older sister first exhibited her works at the Royal Academy during the same year.

As a student at the Royal Academy Schools, Solomon was introduced to other members of the Pre-Raphaelite circle. His first exhibition was at the Royal Academy in 1858. He continued to hold exhibitions of his work at the Royal Academy between 1858 and 1872. In addition to the literary paintings favoured by the Pre-Raphaelite school, 

In 1873 his career was cut short when he was arrested and charged with attempting to commit sodomy: he was fined £100. He was arrested again in 1874 in Paris, after which he was sentenced to spend three months in prison.

After his prosecutions he no longer exhibited, but achieved a degree of celebrity amongst those who shared his sensibilities: Oscar Wilde, John Addington Symonds, Count Eric Stenbock, and Walter Pater all collected his works.

In 1884 he was admitted to the workhouse where he continued to produce work, but his life and talent were blighted by alcoholism. Twenty years later in 1905, he died from complications brought on by his alcoholism. More Simeon Solomon 

Adolph Hirémy-Hirschl, 1860 – 1933, HUNGARIAN

THE BIRTH OF VENUS

Oil on canvas

109 by 227cm., 43 by 89¼in.

Private Collection

The Birth of Venus. In Roman mythology, Venus was the goddess of love, sex, beauty, and fertility. She was the Roman counterpart to the Greek Aphrodite. However, Roman Venus had many abilities beyond the Greek Aphrodite; she was a goddess of victory, fertility, and even prostitution. According to Hesiod’s Theogony, Aphrodite was born of the foam from the sea after Saturn (Greek Cronus) castrated his father Uranus (Ouranus) and his blood fell to the sea. This latter explanation appears to be more a popular theory due to the countless artworks depicting Venus rising from the sea in a clam. More The Birth of Venus

Adolf Hirémy-Hirschl (1860–1933) was a Hungarian artist known for historical and mythological painting, particularly of subjects pertaining to ancient Rome. Some of his major history paintings have been lost, and many of his smaller works were retained by his heirs until the early 1980s. Although he was one of the most successful artists of fin-de-siècle Vienna, these circumstances, along with the rise of Gustav Klimt and the Vienna Secessionists, put his reputation in eclipse. More on Adolf Hirémy-Hirschl

Follower of Sir Peter Paul Rubens

THE ABDUCTION OF PROSERPINA

oil on panel

24 1/8  by 62 1/2  in.; 61.3 by 158.8 cm.

Private Collection

Persephone’s abduction/ The Rape of Proserpina. In Greek mythology, Persephone (also known as Proserpina) was the daughter of Zeus and Demeter (goddess of agriculture) and was queen of the Underworld. One day while the young maiden was picking flowers, Hades, god of the underworld, kidnapped Persephone and carried her back to the underworld to be his wife.

Demeter begged Zeus to command the release of her daughter, and Persephone was told that she would be released from the underworld, as long as she didn’t consume any food while she was there. But when she thought no one was looking, Persephone went into the garden and ate six pomegranate seeds. She was thus doomed to spend six months of the year with Hades, while for the other six months she could return to Earth to see her mother. The myth holds that the months Persephone spends in the underworld leave the earth cold, dark, and wintry, but when she returns, spring and summer accompany her.

Modern readers should note that in Bernini’s time the word “rape” signified “kidnapping”; thus, the sculpture thus represents the kidnapping of Persephone. More on Persephone’s abduction

Sir Peter Paul Rubens (28 June 1577 – 30 May 1640) was a Flemish Baroque painter. A proponent of an extravagant Baroque style that emphasized movement, colour, and sensuality, Rubens is well known for his Counter-Reformation altarpieces, portraits, landscapes, and history paintings of mythological and allegorical subjects.

In addition to running a large studio in Antwerp that produced paintings popular with nobility and art collectors throughout Europe, Rubens was a classically educated humanist scholar and diplomat who was knighted by both Philip IV of Spain and Charles I of England.  More Sir Peter Paul Rubens

 

Follower of Sir Peter Paul Rubens

THE ABDUCTION OF PROSERPINA

Detail

Antonio Bellucci, VENICE 1654 – 1726 PIEVE DI SOLIGNO

BACCHUS AND ARIADNE

Oil on canvas

84 x 107 cm.; 33 1/8  x 42 1/8  in.

Private Collection

Ariadne has been left on the island of Naxos, deserted by her lover Theseus. She is discovered on the shore by the god Bacchus. In the sky above the figure of Ariadne is the star constellation Corona Borealis (Northern crown). There are two possible variations of the story both going back to Ovid. In his Metamorphoses, Ovid has Bacchus throw the crown of Ariadne into the sky where it becomes the constellation Northern Crown. In Ars Amatoria, Bacchus promises the entire sky to Ariadne where she then would become the constellation Northern Crown. Falling in love with Ariadne on first sight. The picture shows her initial fear of Bacchus, but he raised her to heaven and turned her into a constellation, represented by the crown above her head.’ More BACCHUS AND ARIADNE

Antonio Bellucci (1654–1726) was an Italian soldier who became a painter of the Rococo period and was best known for his work in England, Germany, and Austria. He was one of the many Venetian-trained artists of his time who sought commissions north of Italy, providing patrons with the then-popular Italianate grand-manner frescoes for private palaces.

Born and died in Pieve di Soligo. He initially in Sebenico in the Venetian colony of Dalmatia (now part of Croatia). By 1675, he was working in Venice, painting St Lorenzo Giustiniani praying for the city’s deliverance from the plague of 1447 (c. 1691) for the church of San Pietro di Castello. He painted a Nativity for the church of the Ascension at Venice. Several of the landscapes of Antonio Tempesta are enriched with figures by Bellucci.

In 1692, he completed four altarpieces depicting various saints for the church of Klosterneuburg. From 1695-1700 and 1702- c. 1704, he lived in Vienna. He painted the Triumph of Hercules and other allegorical ceilings at the Palais Liechtenstein for Charles VI. More on Antonio Bellucci 

 

Antonio Bellucci, VENICE 1654 – 1726 PIEVE DI SOLIGNO

HERCULES AND OMPHALE

Oil on canvas

84 x 107 cm.; 33 1/8  x 42 1/8  in.

Private Collection

Hercules and Omphale. Wishing to expiate the murder of one of his friends, Hercules consulted the oracle of Apollo, who advised him to enter the service of Omphale, Queen of Lydia. Although Hercules was the son of Zeus and was famed for his invincible strength, he submitted to the tasks the queen devised for him to expiate his crime. Omphale fell in love with Hercules for his strength and physical beauty, and the couple married. This tale, found in both Greek and Roman mythology, is told with a number of variations. It proved a great source of inspiration for French and Italian Mannerist painters, as well as the Venetian artists who influenced Lemoyne. François Boucher also painted a version of the same love scene. More on Hercules and Omphale

Antonio Bellucci, VENICE 1654 – 1726 PIEVE DI SOLIGNO, see above

Lambert Sustris, (1515–1591)

Venus and Love/ Venus and Cupid, c. 1550

Oil on canvas

Height: 1.32 m (1.4 yd). Width: 1.84 m (2 yd).

Louvre Museum

Venus and Love/ Venus and Cupid. Different tales exist about the origin of Venus and Cupid. Some say that Venus, the goddess of love and beauty, had a love affair with Mars, the god of war. Out of this relationship, Cupid was born. 

Cupid has attributes from both of his parents. Like his mother he is considered to be the god of love, or more precisely, the god of falling in love. He is portrayed as an innocent little child with bow and arrows. He shoots arrows to the heart, and awakening a love that you’re powerless to resist.

Venus and Cupid are often shown in intimate poses, reflecting the unique love between mother and child. More Venus and Love

Lambert Sustris (c. 1515-1520 – c. 1584) was a Dutch painter active mainly in Venice in the Mannerist style. He is also referred to as Alberto de Olanda (Albert of Holland). He was born in Amsterdam, and only came to Venice when over 40 years old. His training is unknown, but he was utilized by the studio of Titian for the depiction of landscapes. He accompanied Titian on his trips to Augsburg in 1548 and 1550–1551, and there executed portraits. Returning to Venice, he was influenced by Parmigianino and Andrea Meldolla. He was a teacher to Girolamo Muziano. His son was Friedrich Sustris. More Lambert Sustris

Ferdinand Humbert, (French, 1842-1934)

The slaying of Nessus, c. 1925

Oil on canvas

57-1/2 x 38 inches (146.1 x 96.5 cm)

Private Collection

NESSOS (Nessus) was one of Thessalian Kentauroi (Centaurs). He fled his homeland after the Lapith war and made his way to the Aitolian river Euenos where he set himself up as a ferryman. When Herakles arrived with his new bride Deianeira, Nessos carried her across the river on his back. The sight of the beautiful woman, however, inflamed him with passion and he attempted to violate her. Herakles heard her cries and slew Nessos with a poisoned arrow. As he was dying the kentauros persuaded Deianeira to take some of his poisoned blood as a love charm should Herakles ever prove unfaithful. This dupe worked and eventually resulted in the hero’s death. More Nessus

Ferdinand Humbert, born on 8 October 1842 In Paris , where he died on October 6 , 1934 , was a French painter, and a pupil of Eugène Fromentin and Alexandre Cabanel .

He founded his academy at the end of the 1890s, taking over the former Atelier Cormon, by joining Henri Gervex . He also taught at the Ecole des Beaux – Arts in Paris . More on Ferdinand Humbert

William-Adolphe Bouguereau,  (1825–1905)

The Birth of Venus, c. 1879

Oil on canvas

300 × 218 cm (118.1 × 85.8 in)

Musée d’Orsay

The Birth of Venus. In Roman mythology, Venus was the goddess of love, sex, beauty, and fertility. She was the Roman counterpart to the Greek Aphrodite. However, Roman Venus had many abilities beyond the Greek Aphrodite; she was a goddess of victory, fertility, and even prostitution. According to Hesiod’s Theogony, Aphrodite was born of the foam from the sea after Saturn (Greek Cronus) castrated his father Uranus (Ouranus) and his blood fell to the sea. This latter explanation appears to be more a popular theory due to the countless artworks depicting Venus rising from the sea in a clam. More The Birth of Venus

The Birth of Venus was a theme launched by Lorenzo the Great, and it was he who had it set to verse by one of his favorite humanist poets, Angelo Poliziano. This filtered through to Botticelli and he scrupulously followed the text in order to design the artwork.

Angelo Poliziano’s stanzas were based on an ode by Hesiod. In the story we see the aftermath of Venus’s creation, pushed along by the Gods of the winds, on the first day of Creation, elevated this shell bearing Venus’ triumphant nudity from the unknown depths of the sea. Approaching the earth over which she will assume her true role, she becomes suddenly modest, and notice the stance, which Bouguereau borrowed directly from the beautiful examples of the antique, Venus Pudicae, that were being discovered at that time. More Angelo Poliziano’s stanzas

William-Adolphe Bouguereau (November 30, 1825 – August 19, 1905) was a French academic painter and traditionalist. In his realistic genre paintings he used mythological themes, making modern interpretations of classical subjects, with an emphasis on the female human body. During his life he enjoyed significant popularity in France and the United States, was given numerous official honors, and received top prices for his work. As the quintessential salon painter of his generation, he was reviled by the Impressionist avant-garde. By the early twentieth century, Bouguereau and his art fell out of favor with the public, due in part to changing tastes. In the 1980s, a revival of interest in figure painting led to a rediscovery of Bouguereau and his work. Throughout the course of his life, Bouguereau executed 822 known finished paintings, although the whereabouts of many are still unknown. More William-Adolphe Bouguereau

Workshop of Sir Peter Paul Rubens, SIEGEN 1577 – 1640 ANTWERP

SATYR AND BACCHANTE

oil on copper

13 1/4  by 17 1/4  in.; 34 by 44 cm.

Private Collection

Sir Peter Paul Rubens, SIEGEN 1577 – 1640 ANTWERP, see above

Kenyon C. Cox, American, 1856-1919 

The Education of Cupid, c. 1917 

Oil on canvas 

23 x 46 3/4 inches 

Private Collection

When exhibited in the 1917 Winter Exhibition at the National Academy of Design, The Education of Cupid was praised by a reviewer from American Art News for being “bright and light-spirited.” A critic for The Sun wrote of the work more extensively, “Mr. Cox’s effort is The Education of Cupid, in which every touch is worked out with clear, intellectual and perhaps cold precision. Venus, according to Mr. Cox, is an American lady, but Cupid, properly enough, bears a strong facial resemblance to the heroines of Sir Peter Lely, who, if history be credited, did indeed live in a time of instructed Cupids.” More The Education of Cupid

Kenyon Cox (October 27, 1856 – March 17, 1919) was an American painter, illustrator, muralist, writer, and teacher. Cox was an influential and important early instructor at the Art Students League of New York.

He was born in Warren, Ohio. As a young adult, Cox studied art at Cincinnati’s Art Academy of Cincinnati, but soon became aware of the lack of opportunity and artistic presence in Cincinnati. After visiting the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, Kenyon decided that Philadelphia and the art academy there had much more to offer him than Cincinnati did. Kenyon enrolled in the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts hoping to receive better instruction and eventually secure for himself a way to study in Europe. More Kenyon Cox 

Acknowledgement: Sothebys, Sothebys  , and others

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Author: zaidangallery

I search Art History for Beautiful works that may, or may not, have a secondary or unexpected story to tell. I then write short summaries that grow from my research. Art work is so much more when its secrets are exposed

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